Flat Spot On: Demolition Daytona Done, Atlanta To Be Fast, Too

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 21 2018

Eric Almirola was dumped while leadling the Daytona 500 on the final lap on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Jim Fluharty)
February 17, 2018: During the PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach Florida. (HHP/Jim Fluharty)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer

NASCAR in 280 characters (or less):

The Daytona 500 finally lived up to its standing as the Super Bowl of stock car racing. Block, tackle and crash. (At least NASCAR doesn’t have the head injury safety problem that now looms in every NFL game.)

Things are always different on the last lap. If Austin Dillon lifts, he loses. (No relation to Dale Earnhardt, Sr. getting the red mist at Bristol and dumping Terry Labonte in 1998.)

If it’s cleaner, high-speed racing you want, visit the Atlanta Motor Speedway in the immediate future. (It will be interesting to see if there’s any knock-on effect of No. 3 winning at Daytona in terms of crowd turnout for Sunday’s race. Perhaps a faster Daytona 500 will have an influence.)

The Camaro of Chase Elliott swapping ends through Turn 3 was frightening. (But the incident illustrated that no ride height restriction, i.e. chassis lowered down to the deck, tends to keep cars from flying.)

I, for at least one, have occasionally day-dreamed about stock car speeds of 250 mph at Daytona. (Maybe the stadium-style rebuild of the Daytona Int. Speedway is already a generation behind. Those speeds would require a different grandstand configuration for fan safety.)

Aric Almirola did a lousy job of backing up to the field after he got out front. (Had he moved

Austin Dillon needed to wreck Aric Almirola to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Jim Fluharty)
February 17, 2018: During the PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach Florida. (HHP/Jim Fluharty)

up and been caught by the freight train led by Dillon earlier on the back straight, he might have been able to handle the inevitable bump or anticipate a move to the inside.)

Kudos to Almirola for not complaining that he got dumped. (But wonder if he ever thought in advance about leading the Daytona 500 on the last lap and how to handle it?)

What could have been better for rookie Darrell Wallace than edging former Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin for second place at the finish? (Not reprising the Adderall joke, which wasn’t funny the first time Hamlin said it.)

Those new high-speed video cameras in the cockpit that record what happens to drivers in violent crashes are a boon to safety. (Would love to see what happened in No. 9’s cockpit during Elliott’s horrific spin and how such incidents might relate to potential concussion problems.)

What can you say about Mark Thompson? Go 66-year-old man, go. (Give a call here to Morgan Shepherd, who attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500 in 2014 for BK Racing at age 72…  And congrats to Al Pearce for covering his 50th Daytona 500 after starting many miles ago.)

Given his complaint that it was too early to start racing hard after his car was taken out in the first Big One, apparently Jimmie Johnson is against stage racing. (This does not bode well for an eighth championship.)

Veteran writer Rick Minter said that it looks like Crew Chief Chad Knaus’s solution to chassis problems on No. 48 is to loosen it up to the point where Johnson almost can’t drive it. (Hard to argue with this point of view given events at Daytona or last year’s playoffs.)

The best story on Danica Patrick’s farewell was written by Bob Pockrass —  (My takeaway

Danica Patrick had a familiar result in her final NASCAR Cup race Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

from his reporting: Crew Chief Tony Gibson’s advice on what it took to drive the cars fast was rejected by Patrick and the rest was history — mostly downhill.)

One of the best stories of Speed Weeks was written by Kenny Bruce — (He went where few reporters have gone before.)

At least the “drop the twin qualifying races” stories only had a couple of days to gain momentum. (Like the Indy 500, the more track time drivers/teams get, the better the racing. Instead of 10 cars on lead lap, it might have been just ten cars total without the twins.)

How I miss technical reporting. (Earnhardt, Sr. won at Daytona 20 years ago in part because his Childress team developed more power under NASCAR’s revised engine rules occasioned by Junior Johnson/Jimmy Spencer ingeniously by-passing the plates at Daytona in ’94.)

I still enjoy the Captain Jack story about Bill France, Jr. jumping in on Earnhardt, Sr.’s radio during closing laps of ’98. (France, Jr. likely knew about the Childress response to engine rules & endorsed more power by smarter teams, incl. Hendrick, as a way to cut down on Big Ones.)

Many in NASCAR went through a difficult grieving process after the loss of Earnhardt, Sr. (If you want to see a truly gritty rendition of coping with grief, see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which features nothing but crazy-ass characters.)

Now that the good ol’ crazy-ass days are long gone, I have little time for the people who diss the current NASCAR because it just ain’t like it used to be. Get over it. (Even then, the opportunity to carp about NASCAR was seemingly half of the attraction.)

The real TV ratings test will be Atlanta. (The Winter Olympics competition is women’s cross country skiing.)

Austin Dillon will be very much a part of this year’s story line. (Bring it on, kid, and let’s see what you’ve really got.)

– Jonathan Ingram is a veteran of 42 years of reporting on NASCAR. (But will not likely ever catch Al Pearce.)

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, February 21 2018
No Comment

Comments are closed.