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Daytona Doesn't Disappoint

February 20, 2011 - Al Stephenson
Nascar leads the season off with its biggest race. The Daytona 500 has race fans fired up. Three months without any racing action to follow, has fans clamoring for the start to a lengthy, but exciting season. Sometimes this race itself can be too long. Last year a big pothole caused a two-plus hour red flag condition that sent many television viewers to their remote controls. Only the diehard fans stuck around and I guess that makes me a diehard.

I have followed Nascar racing for a number of years now, though things have changed. I was a fan with a favorite driver and I tuned in to see how he was doing. While some fans follow teams and others follow manufacturers, I followed the exploits of Sterling Marlin. The winner of back to back Daytona 500's, Marlin retired a couple of years ago. That left a void for me. I continued to watch races, but with a more casual interest.

Starting up my own fantasy league at a friend's suggestion brought me back to watching more intently. Now though, I am more concerned with the fourtunes of the fifteen drivers that make up my fantasy team than I am with who actually wins the race. Daytona is a restrictor plate race, making the outcome a crapshoot. This year with the new pavement and a few other assorted changes (for example, many teams had new cooling systems) a new type of racing came about. Instead of the three wide long line of drafting cars, you had two car tandems that produced the fastest way around the track. After watching the Shootout last Saturday and listening to the two Gatorade Duels on the radio, I wasn't sure I was going to like the racing.

After the finish of the race, I am still not sure I like the two car draft. But let me say this. The 2011 Daytona 500 was exciting. Nascar put on a good show and I'm guessing most fans didn't leave their TV sets. The fact that a 20-year-old took the checkered flag may have helped make this race one for the ages. Seeing the legendary Wood Brothers car cross that stripe first made me sit on the couch and applaud. Seeing some other lesser names score high was also a good thing. Having old timers such as Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte and Bobby Labonte not only make the race, but perform well did my heart good.

The view from my seat suggests that congratulations should go to Trevor Bayne, the race winner; Leonard Wood, the ageless car owner; and Nascar. Restrictor plate racing can be a difficult sell, but today it worked out awfully well!

 
 

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