Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Green-White-Checkered rule changes outcome of 2010 Daytona 500 for the better.

Jamie McMurray beating out Dale Earnhardt Jr. by .119 seconds to win his first Daytona 500

Last week, NASCAR mulled over the concept of changing the Green-White-Checkered Flag rule after a bad ending to the Budweiser Shootout that finished under caution that saw Kevin Harvick win the race.

By the end of the week, NASCAR decided to do just that and slipped in an 11th hour decision to change the G-W-C rule: “NASCAR announced a revision to one of its race procedures, allowing a maximum of three restart attempts prior to the White Flag under NASCAR’s Green-White-Checkered flag finish. If the leader has taken the White Flag and the caution flag is displayed, the field is frozen and the race will not be restarted. Previously, there was only one restart attempt.”

The new rule change just like so many was meant with both positive and negative response, however for the most part of what I can tell, it was mostly positive with drivers and fans. However one NASCAR fan that I talked to hated the concept of changing it to three attempts. The fan said it would create more problems than it was worth including more wrecked racecars and in one way, he was right. But I replied with, it’s what the fans and the drivers wanted, plus who wants to see a race finish under caution.

By the end of last week, I ended up commenting on the change myself (Read article here) and while I can understand both sides, I like the idea of 3 attempts at a GWC so long as we haven’t hit the white flag lap. The concept does work, but somebody will pay the price for any new rules change and this one was no different.

However I can’t imagine that even NASCAR would have thought that there new 11th hour rule change would have this much effect on the outcome of their Superbowl, the Daytona 500, but it did.

In watching the 6.5 hour long Daytona 500 on television, the rule change didn’t even cross my mind considering there was just so much going on during the race. The 2010 Daytona 500 had to be one of the best and most exciting restrictor plate races in recent years, but also one of the most frustrating ones considering the length of time it took to complete it.

I can sum up the 2010 Daytona 500 with four phrases:

First had to be flat-tires, tire problems cut short some good runs for some drivers including on lap 8 when Brad Keselowski lost a tire, which send him spinning collecting his teammate Sam Hornish Jr. and Regan Smith, or Jimmie Johnson, who had a flat tire early on which would be the start of his troubles for the day.

Second would be wrecks: Beside the wreck on lap 8, the last 10 laps claimed several cars including Elliott Sadler and Ryan Newman, Bill Elliott and Joey Logano and a even a spin by Kasey Kahne that set the stage for the second green-white-checkered finish.

Third is Pothole in turn 1&2: A developing pothole in a corner at the racetrack during a NASCAR race isn’t something new for NASCAR, a Martinsville race years old comes to mind for most NASCAR fans. This one though ended up causing two lengthy red flag periods that ended up creating one of the longest Daytona 500’s in recent memory (around 6.5 hours is what I timed). I really don’t know much about patching a racetrack, so really using asphalt or in this case bondo doesn’t really surprise me. However I just wish I know how long the red flag period were going to be…

But who would have thought that the new 11th hour Green-White-Checkered rule change would have contributed to the outcome of the Great American Race, the Daytona 500. I said that there would drivers that would win, while there would be others that would loss and this had it all.

As it would take two green-white-checkered finishes to end this one that saw an underdog driver who went back to his former team win his first Daytona 500. Wow, congrats to Jamie McMurray and the entire #1 Bass Pro Shop Chevrolet Earnhardt-Ganassi team for winning the Daytona 500. This would be Jamie McMurray’s fourth career victory as he won in October at Charlotte in 2002, July at Daytona in 2007, October at Talladega in 2009 and now the Daytona 500.

The addition to the G-W-C rule also paid off for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he would charge from 10th spot to finish 2nd on the last restart, you have to tip your hat to Dale Jr., that was a great run he made not only all day long, but on the last restart, he came up like his father would have in the olden days, what a shot.

However the GWC rule did leave a few drivers out, Kevin Harvick because he was the leader before the second GWC and Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon.

Two things were clear here, first the GWC in my opinion was a good rule change to make, but no more than 3 attempts should be made and that’s what they did. Second, Dale Jr. might not have won the Daytona 500, but he did make a statement that said he is here to stay and that team will build on a 2nd place finish.

As for the 6.5 hour race, it was all worth it in the end.

By the way, thought I would mention that Dale Earnhardt Jr. and AMP just launched a DVD detailing Jr.’s race prep from week-to-week and prep for the 2010 season. The DVD is titled “6 Days to Race Day” and it’s now packaged with specially-marked four packs of AMP Energy. I will be interested in seeing what’s on this DVD…