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Woody: Dissecting Daytona’s Delirium

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 29 2012

One has to wonder if carrying tykes is required by rules or the latest in driver fashion accessories? (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

The Daytona 500 bender is over – soggy, bleary-eyed and smoke-smelly – and it’s time to fold the tents, round up the animals, roust the clowns and head down the road to the next stop.

By the time they get to Phoenix will anybody remember who won?

Mild-mannered Matt Kenseth captured the sport’s biggest race and played third-fiddle to a burning safety truck and a 38th-place swimsuit model.

What did we learn at Daytona that can be applied to the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup road show? Well … Brian France doesn’t have the clout with the weatherman that his dad and granddad did; jet fuel sure does burn; don’t hold onto the steering during a crash; and a young lady named Patrick plans to race some this season, according to sketchy media reports. (You might have heard something about it during last week’s Danica 500.)

My buddy Road Hog wonders if there’s a new NASCAR rule requiring every driver to carry a little tyke around with him? If a driver is single, can he rent a Track Tyke for pit-road photo ops?

One potential intriguing story line: Has the rug been yanked from Jimmie Johnson’s magic carpet ride? Before ending last year, Jimmie’s streak of five championships represented the most enchanted run in NASCAR history. But last season trouble finally tracked down Five Time, and at Daytona it hung onto his shirttail when he wiped out on lap 2.

Did Digger pop out of his hole, see his shadow, and predict eight more weeks of bad luck for Jimmie?

Mark Martin had a big couple of weeks at Daytona. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Ditto for my pick for this year’s championship, Jeff Gordon. Blowing an engine right out of the gate, after a long winter of the Boys Back at the Shop Working Really Hard, is not a promising launch of a new season.

Will the Busch boys behave? So far, so goody-goody.

What a week for Mark Martin. The 53-year-old drove like a teen-ager late for a date with the prom queen. Plus, he saved a fortune on his Daytona Beach motel bill with his Senior Citizen discount.

And (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) this could be THE YEAR for Dale Earnhardt Jr. I was surprised that he didn’t try to rattle Kenseth’s cage on the final lap, but it was probably harder to do from where Junior was sitting than from where I was, and second’s not bad.

Junior needs to get it done this season – or at least get closer to getting it done – if he’s ever going to.

But again, it’s impossible to read too much into one race, especially one as wild and wacky as the Daytona 500.

Fans of Kenseth, Dale Jr. and other high rollers shouldn’t get too high, just as fans of Jeff, Jimmie, Danica, Tony Stewart and others back in the pack shouldn’t get too low.

It’s going to be a long grind, starting this weekend at Phoenix. The desert is a good place to go for a Daytona hangover.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 29 2012


  • Terry says:

    One idiot who has forgotten how to race cup….takes out 4 of the biggest stories of the race. JJ’s 2012 start…
    Danika’s well…everything…
    Kurt’s new leaf….
    Trevor/Wood Bros. fast car again this year.
    SADLER….is now officialy Jimmy Spencer.
    As for Kenseth not having sponsors.
    HHHMMMMM……lets see….( 1st smug face ) Then….
    “I don’t like fans reporters media or SPONSORS. I just drive the car LEAVE ME ALONE !!!”
    What’s not to love?
    Why they can’t find media savy ALL AMERICAN KID….Trevor Bayne sponsors is beyond me.

  • Dick says:

    Good observations.

    One I’d make would be that the “800 pound gorilla in the room” is that these two-and-a-half-mile speedways have outlived their usefullness and should go the way of the dodo bird! Gather up all the restrictor plates along with all the other gimmicks that make “racing” possible on these tracks and leave them to RIP in the HOF Museum’s Hall of Shame. Either build shorter, more competitive tracks at these locations or find different locations for these prestigious weekends. Winning, or even surviving, these races should come down to more than a lottery if NASCAR is to show off its best!