Saturday, October 16, 2021

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Looking back at the Daytona 500

The 55th running of the Daytona 500 has passed.

Each team has packed up their haulers and are preparing for head out for the west coast swing over the next two weeks.

Jimmie Johnson’s winning No.48 Chevrolet is in Daytona USA, and the winner of the 55th Daytona 500 is out and about all over the country fulfilling media obligations after his win in the sport’s biggest race.

Many say that with the conclusion of Speedweeks at Daytona the real season can start this coming weekend when the cars hit the track Friday at  the one mile Phoenix International Raceway.

While drivers and fans alike want to look ahead to Sunday’s race, let’s look back at some of the things we learned and still don’t have a clue about following Sunday’s race.

After the checkered flag flew on Sunday, many fans made their opinions heard about their distaste for the massive amounts of single-file racing that at times resembled more of a freight train rather than what they’ve grown accustom to over the years at Daytona.

Many blamed NASCAR for changing the rules too much and for not making a change during Speedweeks following the Budweiser Duels on Thursday after those races ran much like the big race on Sunday.

The fact that Johnson and Chad Knaus, who have become seemingly the most-disliked combination in NASCAR due to their vast amounts of success since being paired together in 2002, won Sunday’s race didn’t make the racing taste any better in the mouths of fans.

There was also frustration among the drivers that they weren’t able to race more during the race. Second-place finish, Dale Earnhardt Jr., offered up some insight as well as some reason to be optimistic about future racing at Daytona.

” I thought the car put on a really good show all week.  We had a really exciting Shootout, the 125s were pretty racy,” said Earnhardt Jr. post-race. “The car proved at the end of this Daytona 500 that it will race well and put on a good show.

“That first 150 miles, everybody commits to the top, there’s not enough guys to organize on the bottom, you get freight-trained.  There’s too much risk.  You work all day on track position because you got to be toward the front to have a shot at it.  You hate to give up any track position.

“It was a great show.  A couple adjustments with this car, the track is going to age a little bit more, the tire will change as the track ages.  It’s going to turn into an even better race.  I think no adjustments needed.”

Obviously, it’s going to take a considerable amount of time for the racing surface of Daytona International Speedway to age in the manner Earnhardt Jr. is speaking of. That’s about five years (at least) down the road.

In May, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway; A track that is very similar to Daytona. And like it’s Florida counterpart, there has been very little wear to the track surface since it was repaved prior to the October race in 2006.

To avoid what some are saying was “boring”, the best thing NASCAR could do would be to tweak the aero package of the Generation 6 racecars at the Super Speedways.

However, much like waiting for the track surfaces to age, it’s a process.

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