In a Nutshell: Was there even an offseason? You’d never know it to look at Kevin Harvick, who demonstrated once again why he is the reigning Busch Series champ. The rest of the series should probably give a sigh of relief that Harvick is not running full-time this year, as he made it look easy winning the Orbitz 300 at Daytona.
Most times the lead is a bad place to be toward the end of a race at Daytona with a huge pack of cars breathing down your neck. Most times the guy leading at the white flag gets inhaled on the last lap when he’s the only one not getting help from friends behind him.
Not so for Harvick. He took the lead on lap 79 of 120 and never gave it up, leaving Dave Blaney, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin scratching their heads and unable to mount a challenge against him. They’d have to settle for second through fifth.
Who Should Have Won: Harvick. Harvick clearly flexed significant muscle over the closing segment of the race so he was definitely the guy to beat. Perhaps if Kyle Busch had not suffered a mechanical failure, he might have had something for the winner.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) How about ESPN in their return debut?
I think it was nice to see a network put a full crew and presentation together for a Busch race just as they would for a Cup race. But I do want to ask if anyone other than me got a giggle during the pre-race coverage when Brad Daugherty said repeatedly, “Well, like Boris said…”
2) Where were the Busch guys?
I know, shut up already about Buschwhackers. But all winter we have heard about how there aren’t as may Cup drivers running full-time in Busch and how it will be better this year. And then the top-12 finishers were all Cup drivers.
3) How is it the “less experienced” Busch drivers manage to run a Daytona race with fewer wrecked cars than the Cup guys yet again?
That question is especially interesting when you take into account it was mostly the same drivers in both races.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
Scott Wimmer was the highest finishing non-Cup regular in 13th place in his first outing for Richard Childress Racing. Marcos Ambrose brought home a nice 15th-place finish to capture Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors in his first Busch outing.
It was a tough deal for the open-wheel contingent. Indy 500 champion Sam Hornish Jr. finished 31st while Juan Pablo Montoya ended up 40th with a blown engine after showing some strength in the early going.
Harvick indeed picks up right where he left off as the leader in the Busch Series points standings for now, but Harvick will not be running the full schedule this season. Blaney, Edwards, Bowyer and Martin complete the top five right now as the standings mirror the race finish. There will be a lot of shuffling going on as the part-timers fall down the rankings. Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle round out the top 10.
Buschwhackers in this race: 24
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 24 of 43
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 10
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 10 of 10
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 1 of 1
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 10
“Anytime you can win any race at Daytona, it’s pretty special. To get our first one today was really good. And tomorrow our car is handling well, and I think that’s going to be the key to the race tomorrow.” – race winner Kevin Harvick
“Unfortunately the Texaco/Havoline Dodge didn’t live all day. Juan [Montoya] did a great job in the car. Something in the motor broke. The motor shop did a wonderful job and I’m sure we’ll go back home and dissect our problem and get ‘er right.” – Brad Parrott, crew chief for the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge of Juan Pablo Montoya
“We started this race just hoping to finish and anything better than a top 20 would be fantastic. I’m really proud of the guys. They worked with me there. I’m a Raybestos Rookie out there on the track and I just try to feel my way around.” – Marcos Ambrose
“Obviously it didn’t go quite as well as we would have liked it to. The car was pretty good. At the beginning of the race we got kind of involved in a wreck with some other people there at the beginning, nowhere to go and got us stuck in the middle. After that we were just a little too tight with the car.” – Sam Hornish Jr.
Next Up: It’s off to the west coast and California Speedway for the Stater Brothers 300 next Saturday night. Coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
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