As the closing laps of the Daytona 500 came winding down, it was two drivers who hadn’t necessarily been contenders for the majority of the race who teamed up for a 1-2 finish. The Penske cars of Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman are obviously two of the hottest cars coming out of Daytona, but who else is satisfied with their performance in the Great American Race? Who is already behind the eight-ball after just one race? Come in and find out in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
0.092 – Ryan Newman’s margin of victory over Kurt Busch in the Daytona 500 (in seconds).
Tony Stewart might have landed a cheap shot on Kurt Busch in the trailer, but Busch got the last laugh, pushing Ryan Newman to a win over the clearly faster car of Stewart.
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.
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.
We do our rankings similar to the Associated Press for basketball and football… each staff member that votes ranks the drivers on a 20-19-18-17-16-15-14… 3-2-1 basis, with the first place driver scoring 20 points, second place 19, etc. Then, Senior Writer Mike Neff compiles the votes, adds some one-liners, and — voila! — you have a full-cooked recipe of power ranking delight. So, without further ado… here’s our latest edition…
The 2000 edition of the Great American Race wasn’t very good, but come 2001 NASCAR thought they’d developed a solution to ensure good racing at Daytona. A small spoiler called the “taxicab strip” was added to the roof of the Cup cars; NASCAR officials hoped the cars would punch a bigger hole in the air with the strip, allowing for more passing despite the restrictor plates. Whether the strip actually made for better racing is highly debatable; what was of greater importance was how drivers quickly reported the strips made the closing rate on a car ahead frighteningly fast. That led to some dangerous and ultimately tragic racing that unforgettable February afternoon.
The Top 15 vote-getting drivers for this Wednesday and every Wednesday during the full 2008 season.
Today’s Season Preview Topic: Which driver is going to be the biggest surprise in the Chase this season?