The Frontstretch: Fact Or Fiction: Did The Two-Car Tandem Work For Daytona? by Kyle Ocker -- Monday February 21, 2011

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Fact Or Fiction: Did The Two-Car Tandem Work For Daytona?

Kyle Ocker · Monday February 21, 2011


From the drop of the green flag at the Budweiser Shootout, Daytona Speedweeks was defined by the two-car tandem draft. Fortunately, the excitement and drama of the weekend’s races didn’t suffer for the change.

FACT: Trevor Bayne is the next Jimmie Johnson

I normally try not to put drivers into the Hall of Fame when they only have two starts under their belt in NASCAR’s premiere series, but it’s apparent the part-time driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford is special.

In Trevor Bayne’s second Sprint Cup Series start, he has already earned the respect of Jeff Gordon – which essentially means the respect of every single Sprint Cup Series driver. For a young rookie to attain that type of compliment from a shoe-in Hall of Famer nearly equals the meaning of being the youngest Daytona 500 champion, at one day over 20 years old.

As Bayne noted in victory lane – after he finally found it, that is – he became a winner in the Cup Series before he had claimed the checkers in the Nationwide Series. Bayne is made for this series; he keeps his calm, and is an overall good kid.

If Joey Logano is indeed the best thing since sliced bread, then Bayne is the best thing since the toaster (or Jimmie Johnson). He has the makeup of a future champion. I’m not saying it will be this year, but it will happen sooner rather than later, and it will occur more than once.

FICTION: The two-car tandems would lead to a boring 500

The 2011 Daytona 500 will go down as one of the most unique, exciting NASCAR races in the history of the sport. With the two-car tandems added in with NASCAR’s attempt to stop them provided a completely different look to racing at Daytona.

What was formerly a race of two or three lines that raced parallel to each other for 500 miles turned into a race that would have a pack of eight or nine pairs of cars.
The two-car tandems also made a race already known for being mentally taxing on the drivers even more so, for it added even more strategies for the drivers to contend with. With the second car in these pair-ups unable to see the action going ahead of them, drivers and crews continuously bounced around on the frequencies of different drivers to work out deals, while the mechanical adjustments ordered by NASCAR throughout Speedweeks forced drivers to swap places in the two-car tandems and watch their temperature gauges closely.

When NASCAR announced their changes before the Daytona 500 in reaction to the two-car breakaways that had drivers racing at speeds above 200 miles per hour on several occasions, I thought they may have over-fixed the issue. Instead, they improved on something that already created exciting and compelling racing. It’s a new form of racing that is hopefully here to stay.

FACT: NASCAR is beginning the journey back up

Staying on the Bayne victory at the Daytona 500, NASCAR started their rise up from years of decline. One of the oldest teams in the garage – one that runs a part-time schedule from a garage that only holds one team – won the sport’s biggest race with the youngest driver on the track.

There were stories spread throughout the garage, such as Brian Keselowski, who was pushed into the Daytona 500 starting lineup by his brother Brad, and ended up with a full sponsorship for the race that allowed him to contend with the big boys in one of America’s largest sporting events.

The ever-enthusiastic crowd could be heard over the noise coming from the track many times throughout the event – and not just when Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead. Twitter exploded following the race, with four out of the top 10 trending topics being NASCAR related. There were literally thousands of tweets regarding NASCAR rolling in every minute.

There is still a little ways to go, but it would be hard to believe that someone who watched the race today would have no desire to continue to watch this season.

FICTION: NASCAR can compete with the NFL

Despite the kind words I provided earlier in this piece, NASCAR isn’t yet at a point to compete with any NFL event. This is proven with the ever-present ratings decline that hits the moment football season starts.

Thankfully, on Sunday, NASCAR announced that the Daytona 500 would be moved a week later than its usual date, in response to the possibility of a later Super Bowl. The move also eliminates the March off-weekend, which has long been accused of being more of a buzz-kill than anything else.

Contact Kyle Ocker

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


©2000 - 2008 Kyle Ocker and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

02/21/2011 06:02 AM

According the voting, I guess I watched a different race.

When the best of the best can’t keep from wrecking each other, that is not good racing. Not once did I hear someone that got turned by his pusher say that the driver pushing him screwed up.

Basically, all drivers agreed that it is such a hard way to race that wrecking is unavoidable.

But I guess wrecking fits right in with the WWE format NAS$CAR seems to be trying to create.

I know that I am one fan that won’t be going out of my way to watch NA$CAR this year.

BTW, the first polling question about Bayne vs Johnson is a joke. The guy has only raced 2 races. How can you even compare him to any racer? Is he better than Earnhardt because he is 1 for 1 at the 500 while Earnhardt is 1 for 23? Maybe he is just another Michael Waltrip too… a great plate racer, but sucks on all the other tracks. How can you even ask that question?

02/21/2011 09:36 AM

Ditto PB

02/21/2011 11:20 AM

Double ditto PBFred!

02/21/2011 12:01 PM

The Daytona race was one of the most worst I’ve ever seen. The was no way I could endure 4 hours of watching cars pair off. Fortunately there was a hockey game on. But I will say the last 1/2 hour of the race was fun to watch.

02/21/2011 12:05 PM

Trevor Bayne the next Jimmie Johnson…judging from one race, and a plate race at that, the type of race that the likes of Michael Waltrip have been known to win?

Daytona 500 winners since the plate haven’t exactly been a who’s who of NASCAR greats, Kyle—Waltrip, Ward Burton, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. haven’t even come close to sniffing a championship, let alone multiple ones. I would reserve judgment on that for a while.

02/21/2011 12:21 PM

Did you guys even watch the race.
This beats the hell out of pack racing any day.
The whole race was interesting and anything but boring. Stop watching it if you dont like racing and watch something else.
Like hockey
Im sure that was WAY BETTER!
Ha Ha Ha

Joe W.
02/21/2011 12:27 PM

I agree with Bill. This was a much better race. All of you complaining must just be Chevy fans. You guys don’t want us Ford fans to have any fun. Well despite the fact we lost three good cars in wrecks(17,16,9) We still got 1,2,3 and A.J. in 11th Ragan in 14th and Terry Labonte in 15th. Sorry guys you can’t ruin this one for us. It was awesome. Go get ‘em Trevor and Wood Brothers Racing!!

02/21/2011 12:41 PM

What is exciting about 8 cars in 2 car tandems pulling out to a 20 second lead over the rest of the field?

02/21/2011 01:14 PM

That was not a boring race! For any car brand fan. We knew that Regan Smith pushing Kurt Busch would work from the Gators, but then he pushed Kurt’s team mate Brad Keselowski to the lead and repeated the feat once again with Junior and again with Kurt. (He will be a popular guy before Talledega).

The finish was as exciting as they come and like they said ‘who doesn’t like the Wood Brothers’ a real feel good moment.

What a great start to the season! (only complaint why can’t Trevor run for ROTY it doesn’t make sense!)

What is exciting about 8 cars in two car tandems taking off to a big lead? Watch again when Kurt Busch and Regan Smith ran down those groups from 12th and 13th near the end, after they both needed repairs to their grills! And then Carl E. and David G. also did it after them!

02/21/2011 01:33 PM

It isn’t boring because a couple of pairs can pull away; it’s boring because they can’t. Anyone can catch up to and take the lead, as long as someone is pushing them. If this race was all about who was faster and handled better, and that allowed breakaways, that would be much more fun to watch. Instead they all handle perfectly and they all have the same restricted engine.

I’d compare watching this race to watching the little balls go around the lottery wheel before they’re drawn. Sure, they’re all going around, changing positions, and any have a pretty equal chance of getting picked, but that doesn’t mean it’s much fun to watch. Even when you’re happy with the winning number.

I don’t want to take anything away from Trevor, though. It’s not just luck; winning drivers at plate tracks do need plenty of skill to be there at the end. He ran a very smart race, did everything right, and it paid off for him. The car was great all weekend, and he drove it flawlessly and cleanly. I’m no Ford guy, but I love seeing the Wood Brothers team back in Victory Lane where they belong.

02/21/2011 03:54 PM

I thought it was the most dangerous racing I’ve ever seen. The driver in back can’t see a thing. The driver in front can’t depend on the reaction time of the driver in back. The spotters taken away from their primary job of keeping their driver safe to run hither, thither and yon to find someone else’s spotter to make a deal with.

Drivers switching channels to talk to other drivers when the rules say they’re to be in contact with their spotter at all times.

I want a race where how good your car is matters. Where how good your pit crew is matters. Where the driver makes his own luck. Where strategy matters.

If this is what I’m going to see for at least two races this year, I think Nascar should at least give out two first-place trophies, as no driver could do anything on his own.

If Nascar is still looking for the “casual” fan, they blew it. Any person tuning in to their first race would be saying “What on earth kind of racing is this?”

02/21/2011 04:01 PM

It was an amazing race. and the hawks penguins game was equally awesome.

Bad Wolf
02/21/2011 04:03 PM

More like Trever Bayne is the new Derrik Cope. With this type of racing it’s all a crap shoot.

I used to watch Pro Wrasslin all the time 20-30 years ago and you know what, It’s way more entertaining than classic Greco-Roman style wrestling but it’s also scripted and phony just like this new Pro Wracelin.

Don Mei
02/21/2011 05:34 PM

It was good to see the Wood brothers back in the winners circle again and the kid drove an amazingly mature and controlled race. I had it on but just glanced at it from time to time with the sound off until the last 20 laps. I guess my problem with plate racing is I know its as much about luck and survival as it is about skill. I find it difficult to watch a race when I know at least 30 to 40% of the field is going to get wrecked before its over.

02/22/2011 03:32 PM

If you thought this was exciting, then why not throw plates on for every track? Better yet, give them all the same cars like IROC used to do. I remember when racing was decided by who had the best engine, handling, aero, driver package. At least that is how it’s decided in all forms of racing as long as it’s not NASCAR at Daytona or Talladega. That was not racing.