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Minter: A Last Look Back At The 2010 500

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, February 19 2010
Kevin Harvick led the 2010 Daytona 500 after the first green-white-checkered restart and would have won the race without the new rule.(Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kevin Harvick led the 2010 Daytona 500 after the first green-white-checkered restart and would have won the race without the new rule.(Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacingToday.com

A few observations from Daytona before moving on to the rest of the NASCAR season:

It was good to see some mention of one of the real culprits in the great pothole controversy. Down at the bottom of a release from Daytona International Speedway on the pothole situation was a sentence that read: “The engineering team concluded that a combination of unusually cold and wet weather exacerbated by race cars bottoming out in that section of the track contributed to the breakdown of the pavement.”

While the track will be immediately repaired with concrete, and probably repaved at some point in the not-too-distant future, there’s no mention of changing the cars so they don’t bottom out in the corners. That’s something that bears just as much scrutiny as the track itself.

Maybe it was because the race was rescheduled and crammed in between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series events, but the Camping World Truck Series provided a winner with a story almost as compelling and heart-warming as Jamie McMurray’s victory in the Daytona 500.

A year ago, Daytona truck winner Timothy Peters was racing a truck prepared in a two-bay, residential-style garage, and he was doing a big part of the mechanical work himself, with one full-time employee and friends pitching in to the rest.

His success with the shoestring-budget operation led to a ride with Red Horse Racing and he returned to Daytona and rewarded his team with a win in the circuit’s premier race.

It continues to look as if a crew chief’s position in NASCAR is one of the least secure in the sport. Just one week in, Drew Blickensderfer is out as Matt Kenseth’s crew chief in Cup, and there are reports that Dave Fuge is gone as Ron Hornaday Jr.’s crew chief in the Camping World Truck Series.

So much for those optimistic pre-season stories out of those two camps.

One aspect of a crew chief swap that often gets overlooked is that because of the advance preparation done on the cars and trucks, the upcoming races, for the most part, will be run using vehicles prepared according to the specs of the ousted crew chief.

So it’s best to wait a month or two before deciding if the change was for better or worse.

Jamie McMurray has turned out, as those who know him expected, to be a very capable representative of the sport in the whirlwind media tour that comes with a Daytona 500 victory.

He’s been honest and open, appreciative of those who have helped him in his career and realistic about what his big win means for the remainder of the season.

Last year’s 500 winner Matt Kenseth missed the Chase. The 2008 winner, Ryan Newman, hasn’t won since, and the 2007 winner Kevin Harvick hasn’t won a Cup race since and like Kenseth missed the Chase last year.

“I don’t really put any thought into basing on who won the previous Daytona 500s ’cause I think that’s kind of irrelevant to the rest of your season,” McMurray said. “Certainly going and running well at Fontana is the goal from here on out. As far as putting any thought into what the previous three guys have done, I’m not really paying any attention to that kind of stuff.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, February 19 2010
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