Did You Notice? That after Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch tangled on the track, Ryan Newman was seen engaging in lighthearted conversation with Stewart on his way to the NASCAR hauler? It’s not like the two drivers can’t talk to each other – they’re friends – but to make that type of move in public, five minutes after your teammate felt like he was wronged on the racetrack? Hmm, even if the wreck wasn’t mentioned, you have to wonder about the relationship Newman and Busch have at Penske after that.
Did You Notice? The most intriguing subplot of the Kurt Busch/Stewart rivalry is Kyle Busch‘s silence. Remember how he defended big bro in 2005? Supposedly, their relationship took a hit after their brush-up in the All-Star Race last year, but if push came to shove, I’m willing to bet blood is thicker than water. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out if Stewart and Kurt keep going at it, if Kyle’s forced to give his opinion, we could see the type of teammate friction we expected at JGR early on.
Did You Notice? The success of all types of the new car on 2.5-mile superspeedways? Both Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch were forced to bring “short-track” chassis to Daytona after wrecking their primary cars in practice, but both drivers experienced success during the 70-lap race. Busch was working his way up through the field before a cut tire ended his chances, while Johnson actually was a late-race contender, eventually pushing Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the win while he finished third.
“Being a short-track car, we were missing a little something [too much downforce], but it drove so well as a result that I could really carve through traffic and run wide-open all night long – and it kind of worked out for me,” said Johnson Saturday night.
So, I guess one thing about the CoT is coming true, you really can take one of these cars and compete with it pretty much everywhere. So, why hasn’t that leveled the playing field for some of these other programs? That’s the big question.
Did You Notice? That new black box in the center of each car with a green “DWI” on it? Supposedly, it’s a GPS device that’s going to replace the need for manual scorers. Previously, each team needed to have an official scorer that would confirm how many laps the car runs each race; but now, this device will eventually track timing and scoring for each car during the event on its own – removing the need for the extra personnel. But before the series goes that far, they need to find out a good place to hide it; several drivers aren’t happy about the placement of the device, and one source told me the series put it, “In the worst spot possible.” What an interesting idea to start this experiment at the one track where drivers need to ensure more than anywhere else that nothing’s blocking their view.
Did You Notice? The sudden appearance of new Nationwide Series standalone teams on the Daytona entry list? None of them are sponsored, but the fact they showed up is at least pretty promising. There’s the two-car team of MSRP Motorsports Inc., which is really an offshoot of a USAR Pro Cup team that’s been run by Randy Humphrey for the last three years. I don’t know much about them, but employing series veteran Steve Grissom in one car might give them a mulligan on the starting grid – Grissom holds a coveted past champion’s provisional.
Besides them, there’s Specialty Racing, the regeneration of an old team led by Doug Taylor that once employed Busch Series ex-veterans Patty Moise, Tim Fedewa and Neil Bonnett’s son David. And Haas Carter Motorsports – once thought to be dead in the water – is at the very least attempting Daytona with David Gilliland driving. Let’s hope these cars get the sponsorship they need to compete, gosh knows the series needs them to balance out the Cup onslaught.
Did You Notice? Kevin Harvick‘s comment on penalties during the pre-race show on FOX Saturday night? OK, you probably saw it, but it’s worth mentioning again, “If it’s something you can do on the street and not get thrown in jail, it should be legal in this garage.”
Did You Notice? These two things from qualifying you should know…
- Only one Dodge qualified in the top 20, and none of them were a factor to win the Shootout. Sure, Reed Sorenson was in the lead pack a lot, but did he ever take it to the front? It looks like the Charger is behind the curve here.
- The best run for a DEI car at Daytona, 18th, by Mark Martin. After Martin Truex Jr.‘s car got destroyed in the Shootout – while Earnhardt Jr.’s Hendrick Chevrolet won – it’s not the best of starts for this program. Whoever thought we’d get to the point where it’s possible none of four DEI teams will lead a lap during the 500 (although I think Martin will take it to the front)?
Did You Notice? The new trend of drivers putting small logos next to their driver signature on each car? OK, maybe it’s too small for you to notice them at home, but trust me, they’re there. There’s the religious cross on Joe Nemechek‘s Nationwide Series car, the Texas flag on Bobby Labonte‘s Cup car, and the state of Arkansas on Martin’s No. 8 DEI Chevrolet. To me, that was the most surprising one of all; I was getting used to the whole “Junior not in the No. 8” thing until I saw the Arkansas flag, and then it was a subtle reminder that this major change actually came to pass.
Did You Notice? Carl Long‘s sense of humor in assessing his Daytona 500 bid? The journeyman is trying hard to make his first Daytona 500 after several failed attempts, and the driver signature atop his No. 08 Dodge says “Longshot” – a realistic assessment considering he’s with a single-car team that operates out of Georgia and didn’t even have a CoT six months ago. But no matter the odds, Long keeps trying, and it’s pulling for that type of miracle that keeps you tuning into the Duels, regardless of whatever rules are in place.