I can honestly say this is the craziest Speedweeks I have ever experienced in the 20+ years I’ve been watching this sport. Qualifying saw carnage and very vocal drivers.
The truck race was intense, and before that one driver was suspended due to his actions outside the track. Come Saturday, another driver would end up out of action due to a bad wreck, with the end result being a broken leg and foot.
So after all the chaos, questions, and anger that summed up Speedweeks for 2015, the main event still awaited.
There is little doubt that the Daytona 500 is the big race. Often drivers say the season begins the week after because this race itself is its own entity, as the build up to it begins right when the previous season ends. But with all the negativity that came from the last few days of action, NASCAR really needed to finish on a positive and encouraging note in its biggest race.
Apparently the drivers took that responsibility in their own hands, especially when it came to the final part of the race.
With 20 laps to go, then 15, and then 10, the field was still jockeying for position and trying to get the lead, but it wasn’t just between the front five or six cars. It was three-wide the entire way around the track, and often eight or nine-deep in the main pack. The field was separated by less than a second, and yet despite being inches, sometimes less, apart, there were no wrecks, just strong, smart, and intense racing.
Every fan was on their feet, screaming loud and in awe of what they were witnessing. Then to have it come down to a green-white-checkered finish, it was the perfect storm of action.
In the end, the final big wreck ended the action, leaving Joey Logano as the one to take home his first Daytona 500 victory in his still young career. But what the fans got overall was one of the more action-packed races on a plate track that they could ever expect. These are the best drivers in the world, trusting one another to make the right moves and to not cause an accident that could possibly take out many other drivers.
That is how you start a new season.
And now, we’re off and running on a new NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Let the fun begin.
RESULTS: 1-Logano 2-Harvick 3-Earnhardt Jr. 4-Hamlin 5-Johnson 6-Mears 7-Bowyer 8-Truex Jr. 9-Kahne 10-Biffle
NOTABLE FINISHES: 15-Almirola 21-Patrick 23-Edwards 33-Gordon 35-Kenseth 41-Keselowski 42-Stewart
CAUTIONS: 7 for 26 laps. Lap 20-24 (Fluid on track from #40), 42-45 (#14, 20, 21, 55, 1, 15, 2 Accident-FS), 107-110 (Debris-FS), 162-165 (Fluid on track from #2 and #1, 31 Accident-BS), 177-181 (Fluid on track from #21), 199-201 (#51, 33 Accident-FS; Red Flag-6 mins, 42 secs.), 203-203 (#24, 3, 37, 18, 47, 44, 17, 42 Accident-BS).
LEAD CHANGES: 27 among 12 drivers. Gordon 1, Johnson 2-13, Gordon 14-19, Yeley 20, Annett 21, Mears 22, Gordon 23-45, Logano 46-51, Gordon 52-86, Edwards 87, Hamlin 88, Gordon 89-107, Allmendinger 108, Gordon 109-111, Hamlin 112, Logano 113, Earnhardt Jr. 114-145, Logano 146-153, Biffle 154-155, Logano 156-157, Johnson 158-165, Edwards 166-167, Johnson 168-180, Logano 181, Johnson 182-187, Truex Jr. 188, Hamlin 189-190, Logano 191-203.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 8 Mins, 2 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 161.939 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: Under Caution
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Logano, 47 points*; 2. Harvick, -5; 3. Earnhardt Jr, -5; 4. Hamlin, -6; 5. Johnson, -7; 6. Mears, -8; 7. Bowyer, -10; 8. Truex Jr, -10; 9. Kahne, -12; 10. Biffle, -12