The Frontstretch: Ten Points To Ponder … After the Daytona 500 by Tommy Thompson -- Monday February 18, 2008

Go to site navigation Go to article

Ten Points To Ponder … After the Daytona 500

Tommy Thompson · Monday February 18, 2008


1. Well … Isn't That Just Super? – The Daytona 500 is often referred to as NASCAR's equivalent of the NFL's Super Bowl. Well, the Patriots – Giants game, held two weeks ago, was an exciting and well-played contest in its own right; and, with a Cinderella finish to boot. I just thought it was appropriate to mention here, because while I like the New York Giants, Ryan Newman and the Penske Dodges were just as big of an underdog, overcoming the odds for a surprise victory in Sprint Cup. It’s clear that in terms of entertainment value, both the NFL and NASCAR appear to have delivered in the past month or so.

2. Was It Just A Hunch? – Those NASCAR PR guys are slick; did you catch the NASCAR promo shortly after the opening laps as FOX went to break with Jeff Gordon exclaiming that, “Hey, I like the way this is looking.” And that happened not long after he had taken the lead, either! How did those guys know?

Both Jacques Villeneuve (No. 27) and Dario Franchitti (No. 40) had a hard time adjusting to Daytona’s high banks; Villeneuve missed the race while Franchitti was never a factor.

3. Hey, We're Just Trying To Earn A Living – Four former Indianapolis 500 winners attempted to run in this year’s Daytona 500. Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Juan Pablo Montoya all competed, while fellow Indy winner Jacques Villeneuve gave it his best effort — but he came up short in qualifying and during the Gatorade Duels. Throw in NASCAR regulars Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart — who have come close to winning the Indy 500 themselves — and isn't there an argument for this race to now be called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?”

4. Umm…Excuse Me, Ladies? - Martin Truex, Jr., miffed at Kyle Busch for his driving tactics during Saturday's running of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300, remarked, "Kyle drives likes a girl. I mean, come on. We're out here racing for fun. We had a lot of fun racing today with him, and then I had a huge run and he just blocked me…"

Here’s my thought: Is driving like a girl a bad thing? And… why is it wrong to block a competitor to protect your position?

5. Where Have Them Guys Been All Week? - It has been clear from the start of Speedweeks at Daytona that Toyotas were going to be a force to be reckoned with this year. But of course, no one could count out those Chevys … particularly the Hendrick Motorsports drivers. And — though Ford hasn't been particularly impressive in February — you just knew that at least one car of the Roush Fenway bunch would be in the mix at the end (Greg Biffle, 10th). But none of those were as effective as grabbing the Bull By The Horns; Dodge driver Ryan Newman took the win, and the Charger captured three of the Top 5 spots and six of the Top 10. Big surprise …

6. Presto-Chango! - Robby Gordon, the most successful owner/driver in recent NASCAR Cup history, made a last minute manufacturer switch to go from Ford to Dodge before coming to Daytona. That meant Gordon, who wound up recording an impressive eighth place finish in the 500, had four days to convert his cars to conform with NASCAR's version of a Charger. However, with the new common templates, the Robby Gordon Motorsports bunch were able to accomplish that feat in 24 hours. Don't you just know Honda is taking note?

7. I'll Be Right Back! - Those that have become accustomed to holding on because they were certain there would be a caution pretty soon involving David Ragan weren't disappointed. Ragan provided a much needed bathroom break on lap 160, when he seemed to lose the handle on his Roush Fenway No. 6 and slammed into the wall; he ruined teammate Matt Kenseth's day, as well. This is no doubt a make-or-break year for Ragan; and so far, he’s “broken.”

8. Who, me worry? - Two-time defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson finished 27th Sunday after becoming victim to a lap 177 spin. Sam Hornish, Jr. gave the No. 48 a little love tap coming off of turn two to send him around … last year, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet posted a dismal 39th place finish at the track; does he just feel a need to "spot" the other teams the Daytona 500 now, after taking the checkered flag in 2006?

9. Just Glad I Could Help, Bro - Kurt Busch, the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing, pushed teammate Ryan Newman to victory on the final lap after Newman jumped to the high line in front of Busch. In post race interviews, Busch repeated over and over that he was pleased with his results, Newman's win, and especially the success that the Penske organization enjoyed Sunday. That’s surprising because Busch, known to be temperamental, seemed genuine and believable. The older brother to Joe Gibbs Racing's Kurt Busch, and former NASCAR Cup Champion said, “I'm just very happy. I'm not bitter at all for finishing second.” Might it be that Kurt Busch has become older and wiser before our very eyes?

10. Who Could Have Known? - Las Vegas oddsmakers had Ryan Newman as a 30-1 underdog to win the 50th running of the Daytona 500. He hadn't visited a Sprint Cup Victory Lane in 81 races, and he was driving a Dodge — both serious red flags for any possible racing bettor. But in the end, those odds were overcome; Ryan Newman won the Daytona 500! It’s a phrase we’ll all be getting used to this week.

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

M. B. Voelker
02/18/2008 07:35 AM

As Kyle Busch said about Truex’s comment:

“Grow up, bud. What do you want me to do, pull over? Next question.”

Wayne Middaugh
02/18/2008 12:12 PM

Kyle Busch is one of the most talented drivers in Nascar, perhaps he could take his own advice and help himself grow up.

Mr. Kulwicki
02/18/2008 01:03 PM

Many have speculated what Robby Gordon could do performance-wise if he didn’t qualify 33rd, drive marginally-prepared equip, get no help and after moving into the top ten(even 2 or 3 times)suffer some car problem and finish 33rd. We may have seen a sneak preview.

02/18/2008 01:34 PM

It is one thing to block but almost causing a wreck is another. My wife uses the term that they drive like a girl.

02/18/2008 01:41 PM

What is wrong with blocking? Driving right into the path of another driver is dangerous, that’s what is wrong with it..

02/18/2008 01:42 PM

I was tickled by Truex’s comment about Kyle Busch…and I’m a girl. :)

Martin rarely opens his mouth about other competitors, or at least does so less often than other drivers do, and now he’s being lambasted for calling another driver a girl?

If this is part of NASCAR’s plan to let the drivers show their ‘true’ personalities, I’m all for it.

02/18/2008 02:52 PM

“The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”????

Are you for real???



And every new year is unique! Doesn’t mean squat what you did LAST YEAR!!

So no, don’t even compare the two events!

Actually my nomination for the name of the Daytona 500 would be : “THE GREAT AMERICAN FARCE”!!

Because that’s exactly what it is!

This year, ten (10) VERY FAST CARS were sent home, including the 9th and 11 FASTEST OF EVERYONEQUALIFYING”!!

Can you imagine if at “THE GREATEST SPECTACLE IN RACING”, the actual one, what would happen if your 3rd and 4th row qualifiers were sent home because somebody “bought their way in”???

NA$CAR is a joke! A CRUEL JOKE on it’s fans, or ex-fans as the case may be!

02/18/2008 03:26 PM

I have never been a Kurt Busch fan but I thought the post race comments he gave were the closest to a NASCAR champion and veteran racer I’ve ever heard him say. I loved the fact that after all the weeks controversy, he came out to be a class act, while Stewart still sounded his usual bitter self after finishing third! Not to mention the fact that it was Busch that blasted his teammate past Stewart to give him his bitter attitude. Kyle Busch and Stewart are perfect teammates. They each have someone to whine to post race.

02/18/2008 05:03 PM

Truex Jr. has probably been taking whining lessons from Denny Hamlin. He was irked too because Kyle had a better car ( and can drive circles around him ).

Kevin in SoCal
02/18/2008 05:30 PM

Looks like Douglas is a big whiner too. Do you need some cheese with that?

02/18/2008 07:05 PM

“and isn’t there an argument for this race to now be called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?”

Hey Tommy,

When Daytona International Speedway is around for its centennial year, like
the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be celebrating next year, then we’ll talk. Quite honestly, in terms of INTERNATIONAL star power, the 24 Hours of Daytona pulls more interest than the 500. Don’t forget that Montoya is in NASCAR because nobody in F1 will hire him, and if Franchitti doesn’t step it up, his wife will be getting more press than he will.

Margo L
02/18/2008 08:52 PM

Yeah , it’s hard to imagine why a driver would be in a bad mood after finishing third . My guess would be that a great driver is never satisfied with anything except winning .

02/22/2008 10:35 AM

How did all that smoke get into Newman’s car during the burnout? The smoke was bellowing OUT of the window. I thought someone got dinged during inspection for a loose dry sump tank cover because it allowed air from under the car to enter the cab, thus relieving pressure under the car and providing more down force.

Contact Tommy Thompson