Dale Earnhardt seemed destined to finally win the race that had eluded him through his entire career after dominating the event, leading 155 of 200 laps. However, a broken piece of transmission bellhousing from Ricky Rudd’s No. 5 Levi-Garrett Chevrolet ended that notion. Earnhardt ran over the debris entering turn 3 at about 195 mph, and cut down a right rear tire. The black No. 3 GM Goodwrench Lumina wobbled up the racetrack and slowed, clearing the way for relative unknown Derrike Cope from Spanaway, Wash. to capture his first career victory in NASCAR’s biggest race.
Well race fans, it’s that time again. The offseason is coming to an end very quickly, and we are close to going back to racing. But before we do let’s talk about what to expect from the Craftsman Truck Series this season.
This Week’s Question: This year, 36 of the 43 spots in the Daytona 500 will be already “locked in,” due to owner points and the past champion’s provisional held by Dale Jarrett. Is it fair that so many cars are guaranteed spots in the field, or should the vast majority of drivers and teams have to qualify their way into the Great American Race?
There it sat, two-and-a-half miles of fresh black top shimmering in the midwinter Florida sun, with banked corners higher than the tallest buildings in the towns some of the drivers racing on it had grown up in. For a group used to running on short dirt and asphalt ovals, the awe must have been tempered with a bit of fear as well. As Jimmy Thompson, a driver of that era, put it, “There have been other tracks that separated the men from the boys. This is the track that’s going to separate the brave from the weak when the boys are gone.”
I don’t think there’s a grand conspiracy to give Toyota an advantage. Watching how Toyota has succeeded early in every racing venue they’ve put themselves in, it shouldn’t be a surprise. I am a little surprised at how the non-CoT cars performed at Daytona, but a couple of things there: One, it is a plate track, and two, well, it’s Toyota.
The offseason can be a dreadful time for the racing fan. Unless you like German touring cars, motocross or snowmobile racing, there has never been a fix for the racing fan during the cold of Winter. Sure there’s the Chili bowl and the Ice bowl. But those are isolated races. For the race fan that has a desire to see door to door racing on a nearly weekly basis, there has never been that kind of fix in the winter. Enter Arena racing.
10. A Clinton/France campaign for President in ’08.
With Juan Pablo Montoya adding a Rolex 24 victory to his resume over the weekend, it’s another prestigious trophy to go along with his years of success in CART and Formula 1. Can Montoya be already considered one of the most successful drivers in history, even if he ends up failing in stock cars?
For 10 years before the first Daytona 500 was held at Bill France’s magnificent new superspeedway, NASCAR’s Grand National Division ran on the storied old beach and road course in Daytona Beach, in what was considered the biggest event on the tour’s calendar.
Today’s Season Preview Topic: Who will be the biggest surprise of the 12 drivers in the Chase this season?
Though I continue to keep an open mind concerning NASCAR’s decision to develop and introduce the Car of Tomorrow (CoT) into weekly competition, the schedule for 2007 seems certain to create an inconsistent and disjointed season for fans. Instead of the sixteen scheduled CoT races slated for 2007, the sanctioning body would have been better served to postpone the debut of the car until 2009, when the CoT will supposedly be prepped to handle all racetracks.
Today’s Season Preview Topic: What driver enters the season under the most pressure to make the Chase, and why? Will they succeed or fail?