Thursday, February 11, 2010

Boys have at it started with the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duels at Daytona.

Today is the day that a lot of NASCAR fans have been waiting for, the day that we all know who will be in the Daytona 500 and who’s going home. It’s always interesting to see who is the Great American Race, one reason is that it’s so hard and confusion to make the 500. The second reason is its NASCAR’s Superbowl, it’s the biggest race of the season and the race features some of the best in the world.

But before we get to who’s in and who’s out, last Saturday night was the unofficial kick off of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with the 2010 Budweiser Shootout. It’s one of those races that point blank I can live without if NASCAR replaced it was a preseason test session/preseason race in January where fans, drivers, crews, crew chiefs, owners, media and everyone can get excited about the upcoming season.

Anyway, the 2010 Budweiser Shootout which use to be all about win a pole in the previous season and get into the race is now completely different, but still exciting to watch. The Shootout really started out with the top names and the top 12 in points really showing the way. But as everyone knows, it isn’t about the first 50 laps or the last 50 laps, or even the green flag pit stop, it’s about the final 10 laps and who’s going to win.

A lot of races at superspeedway namely Daytona and Talladega are all about laps of boredom followed by 10 laps or less of real excitement and that’s exactly what fans got sort of.

One thing that caught my attention had to be Kurt Busch flying through the grass with his splitter acting like a blade and shoveling grass up the front grill and his hood flying up on to the windshield and then him hitting the way. I wonder if NASCAR should consider removing the front splitter or at least moving it up so this might not happen again.

However what really caught my eye with Greg Biffle coming to white flag and then wrecking. What a way to go, from the lead to a wrecked racecar just before the white flag, but I believe he did have a flat tire and numerous cars were involved. But as the race would end under caution, it was no surprise that Kevin Harvick won the Budweiser Shootout for the second year in a row, can 2010 be better for him?

Gatorade Duels

Heading into the Duels on Thursday, there were only two drivers that were locked into the field, had their starting spots on Sunday and pit positions, of course I’m talking about the polesitter Mark Martin and front row starter and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Now by the way NASCAR has set up this confusing format for getting into the Daytona 500, it makes the Gatorade Duel races a highlight of Speedweeks and in some cases the best races of the entire Speedweeks including the Daytona 500. You don’t know who is in and who’s out of the 500 until basically after the 2nd Duel race and 2010 was no different.

The first Duel race really had more action going on especially with everyone battling for position. There’s races for some are gotta go or I’m out and that was especially true for Michael Waltrip. Mikey really didn’t have much for luck in the first Duel race at all as a flat tire and getting turned would send him into the inside wall ending his day, of course no go or go home driver really does. Unfortunately for Michael Waltrip, the Duels would turn out to be a nightmare for him until it was over as he was only in if Bobby Labonte or Scott Speed got in on time.

But what a finish, Jimmie Johnson would beat Kevin Harvick to the line by .005 for victory; Superman has won the 1st Duel race and on old tires vs. new tires for Harvick.

In the second Duel, Michael Waltrip was in the Hollywood Hotel for the race watching the monitor to see if he would be in or out, poor Michael, they had a camera on him all the time and his face showed it. What an adventure he must have had. It’s always interesting to see the race upfront vs. the race for the transfer spot. I was surprised that Dale Jr.’s car didn’t get back into it and a little bit of damage, but even more it was Brad Keselowski that was really racy in his #12 Verizon Wireless Penske Dodge racing up front most of the race after coming from the back after a bad pit stop to contend for the lead. Brad Keselowski will start outside of the 13th row.

But once again the finish would be spectacular with Kasey Kahne beating Tony Stewart to finish line by a splitter, what a finish to tense day and yes Max Papis, Michael McDowell are in after 1st Duel, Bobby Labonte, Scott Speed, Michael Waltrip, Joe Nemechek, and Robert Richardson Jr. are all in the Daytona 500.

However others weren’t so lucky as Casey Mears, David Gilliland, Aric Almirola, Dave Blaney, Reed Sorenson and more didn’t qualify for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Finally everyone knows the starting lineup and with the exception of final practice, everything is done and all that is left is The Daytona 500 at 1pm on FOX, this should be an interesting 500 especially with the blocking rules relaxed, the yellow-line rule in effect, and the wildcards. Boy’s have at it.