Even with changes in recent years to change things, the need for clean air is still apparent on intermediate tracks, and it really showed on Saturday. Even Kevin Harvick, who easily had the best car in the field when out front, struggled to make any headway when he was in traffic.
Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How behind Sunday’s race? Amy Henderson has you covered with each week with the answers to six race-day questions, covering all five Ws and even the H… the Big Six. Who… gets my shoutout of the race? It shouldn’t have been unexpected. Anyone who didn’t think Dale …
Well now, let’s review the NASCAR headlines generated by the finish of the Daytona 500 and see what they tell us.
Jimmie Johnson made the most of his 400th career start, edging ahead of Brad Keselowski just as the final caution flag flew. That gave the No. 48 entry the preferred outside groove for the final restart, where it was all over after that. (Finally.)
On lap 16, Tony Stewart attempted to change lanes and make a move on race leader Matt Kenseth. While he wasn’t cleared by his spotter, Stewart chose to shift down low which resulted in his left rear corner making contact with the right front of Marcos Ambrose. Stewart’s car got out of shape, made contact with the apron and sent a shower of sparks over several cars that were pursuing him. Jimmie Johnson checked up in the high line, which caused Denny Hamlin to make contact with the five-time champ, turning him down in front of the oncoming pack and ultimately taking out one-third of the field. The accident eliminated defending champion Kyle Busch, two-time Unlimited champion Jeff Gordon, 2006 winner Denny Hamlin and 1999 winner Mark Martin. Just like that, the field was reduced by one-third, many contenders sat idle in the garage and the drafting – along with the racing – became a shell of its former self.
Some things in life are simply unavoidable: clocks strike 12 daily, there’s always somebody at the traffic light who forgot what the accelerator is for, breakfast foods are somehow the most boring and exciting menu items at the same time. And NASCAR may take a winter hiatus; however, our favorite sport always returns before we …
Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecked Clint Bowyer, collecting Joey Logano and Aric Almirola as the field was coming to the white flag. The result was a green-white-checkered finish, one that saw Danica Patrick wreck on the first of two laps, lay down a large amount of oil on the track, then cause a complete melee on the front straight as the cars came to the checkered flag. The final wreck tore up over half-a-dozen race cars while the incident between Gordon and Bowyer set off a rumble in the garage, one reminiscent of the Tide team vs. the Kodiak crew at the 1989 Winston.
Dale Jarrett said it best: as much as everyone wanted to see the race end, and as close as some teams were on fuel mileage, there needed to be a caution for Danica Patrick on the green-white-checkered attempt. NASCAR’s failure to throw the yellow was costly. As Harvick took the checkers, several cars sustained heavy damage as their drivers raced for position coming to the finish line, only to realize that there was fluid on the track from Patrick’s limping car. Menard slammed into the back end of Patrick’s slower car so hard that the No. 10 was thrown into the air. Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Menard and Brad Keselowski all suffered damage. Kurt Busch’s car was destroyed and on fire.
During the seventh caution flag of the night, Brad Keselowski took two tires on his pit stop to regain lost track position while Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch took four. That got Kes the lead, for a series of restarts but kept what was likely the fastest car from having the speed to pull away. While Busch faded into the background, that decision would ultimately result in Johnson and Keselowski finishing first and second.
What a mess. That’s what several teams were left thinking after the wreckfest that was the Hollywood Casino 400. A track-record and season-high 14 cautions marred the racing over the course of the 400-mile event, caused by everything from a rash of blown tires, a couple of driver errors at the wrong time, a move made in anger, and a very slick repaved racetrack. “If people are wondering where all the cautions went, they moved to Kansas,” Brad Keselowski said at one point during the day, referencing complaints about a lack of yellow flags during several events this season.