The Daytona 500 marked the first leg of the season long NASCAR marathon. The season opening race usually will act as a warm-up lap though for the rest of the year once the engines are unleashed from their restrictor plate captivity. For some fans the real season starts with race two on the schedule as the series will now travel to Phoenix.
We have been introduced to the new faces in new places. Some of the new paint schemes and sponsors may take some getting used to.
One newer face may not need an introduction. The mania behind the girl with the flag-on-her-lower-back tattoo has been initiated and we are now all left to wonder if Danica will have the endurance to sustain a full year in a NASCAR series. Fans and media should have no trouble locating the bright-green hue as she travels to new places this year. Everyone will have an opinion as to how she will fare. She along with her competitors will learn soon enough.
The usual suspects will also soon discover if their off-season work will pan-out in hopes to raise the trophy NASCAR awards at the end of the year to the champion. It’s been seven years since someone not named Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart has claimed the championship.
Another former champion is already building momentum in 2012. Matt Kenseth claimed the first win of the season in Daytona. The Gatorade bath in victory lane was a welcome sight for all involved.
Weather tried to damper NASCAR’s crown jewel of racing. Fans though were treated to an unusual race event in Daytona. The race was postponed for the first time during its 54 years of existence to a live Monday primetime audience. Those who tuned into the initial green flag saw action within the first few minutes. Multiple cars were victims of some early over-anxious racing, leaving many machines limping to both pit-road and the garage. Once the race restarted though there were many bouts of the pack-racing the fans and some analysts of the sports have been yearning for once again. There were indeed glimpses of the tandem-racing fans have been accustomed to the past few years on the two plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega, but for the most part cars were leading a charge without the push from behind.
There was also more intrigue as the race moved forward. The leader at the scheduled halfway point of the race would earn an award of $200,000. Martin Truex Jr. would claim the prize after crossing the line first on lap 100. NASCAR I suspect may have also celebrated once Truex completed the lap, knowing the race would become official by reaching the midpoint, regardless if there were any more delays due to weather. What NASCAR didn’t expect though was a delay of another kind when Juan Pablo Montoya was involved in a wreck under caution. Montoya was experiencing car issues and found his car crashing into the rear of one of jet dryers on the track.
In what NASCAR refers to their version of football’s Super Bowl, everyone was being treated to an impromptu halftime show at lap 160.
Brad Keselowski had a front-row seat for the performance as safety workers extinguished the flames. During the unexpected break, Keselowski took time to tweet both messages and photos of the incident. Both the concern and curiosity of those on Twitter were flooding his profile page to the tune of 50,000+ followers gained during the two hour span. Some observers asked not only how Brad was able to carry a phone, but also why he had the device with him in the car. The reaction from some may have prompted a response stating NASCAR should fine a driver for having a phone with them during a race, but after all, isn’t the series titled Sprint Cup? I’m sure the executives from Sprint were delighted to see a driver explain on camera during the biggest race of the year how they were managing some of the apps of their phones.
Once the show in turn three was over, the real show resumed. Many of the drivers were surprisingly ready to finish the race after the constant waiting they endured from the original starting time on Sunday.
Some late race incidents prolonged the event but a white flag finally waved on the race weekend. It’s finally over.
For those watching at home and also the spectators still at the track may have been singing a familiar James Taylor chorus line. I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain…but I always thought that I’d see you again. The checkered flag being the friend from this year’s inaugural event we all were waiting to see.