Just watched the closest Daytona 500 finish ever. All honors to Denny Hamlin for the bold move that won it for him. And also to Martin Truex for a great performance. I really thought he had it, but Hamlin put his nose ahead by inches. Another great day for Joe Gibbs, too. And they got to the finish without a green-white-checker (or 2 or 3 of them), which helps make it a great day for NASCAR, too. That, plus the newly remodeled Daytona Speedway being sold out and a perfect weather day for racing.
Another driver who acquitted himself well is Chase Elliott. Despite his spin, he proved he is ready for the #24 car, winning pole position for the 500 and then eking out a close victory in the Xfinity race. He will go from strength to strength as the season moves on.
I have to say the jury is still out on NASCAR’s new rules package. It is supposed to make the racing more exciting by making the cars edgier and more difficult to drive. But at Daytona it just seemed to make the kind of moves needed to gain ground through the plate-race pack harder to do. As long as the inside lane stayed in line for four or five cars back the outside line couldn’t develop the momentum to get by, this to a greater extent, I think, than in years past. NASCAR still has work to do, but Daytona is not typical of NASCAR tracks in general. We’ll learn a lot more about the quality of racing beginning with the next race at Atlanta.
And an attaboy to Jeff Gordon on his first big race as a TV commentator. You could tell he was more nervous than he wanted to let on. Who wouldn’t be? But I think he will do really well. All he needs is time and experience to get comfortable in the booth and begin delivering consistent first-class insight.
Wouldn’t it be cool if one of the 1/32 scale slot car manufacturers were to do a model of the winning car? Alas, it won’t happen because NASCAR has made the approval process for such a project a frustrating and expensive ordeal that nobody seems willing to go through anymore. A few years ago Scalextric, Carrera, and SCX were all doing NASCARs but not any more. A while back I heard some faint rumbles of the slot car industry jungle drums to the effect that one off the slot car companies was going to do them again. Well, not this year, but next year, who knows?