Yesterday, the Daytona 500 found itself a surprise winner in Trevor Bayne, a rookie in the Sprint Cup making only his 2nd start in the series. The fact that he was in a Wood Brothers car makes it even more amazing. The Wood Brothers haven't won a race since 2002. And the team decided that they would race part-time this year going into the season. Bet that they suddenly decide to be a full-time team.
Anyways, the way you race in Daytona changed with the repaving of the track. No longer is it a race by freight train. It has evolved into packs of 2 cars teaming up to go faster. And while the changes caused the cars to go faster, it also caused drivers to have no chance of checking up if they were the back car of the tandem to slow down to avoid wrecking people. Michael Waltrip was the big instigator causing 2 wreckes including the Big on on Lap 29 that claimed 17 cars.
Childress racing lost 2 cars to Engine failure, the #29 of Kevin Harvick and the #31 of Jeff Burton. That is something of an anomaly. Childress hasn't lost 2 cars to engine failure in over 2 years if my memory serves me correctly. The 3 Hendrick cars involved in the Lap 29 big one, the #24, #48, & #5, all had different results. Mark Martin came home in 10th position, while Jimmie Johnson was 19 laps down and Jeff Gordon finished 35 laps down. Michael Waltrip took out his #00 car driven by David Reutimann to start the melee. After the crash the Big 3 that were thought to have the best chance to win the race are Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Trevor Bayne is showing the power that the #21 has during this time. He is pushing people to the front of the field. It doesn't matter if it is a Ford, Chevy, Toyota, or Dodge. He had planned to work with Jeff Gordon throughout the race, but with Gordon crashing, he is showing that he will work with anybody. Junior had problems with lots of people trying to team with his car. Truex Jr, and Kahne tried to help the 88, but Junior was trying to get away from them because the car wasn't responding favorably to those two being hooked up with him.
The final 15 laps were a dogfight. You had 6 or 7 packs of tandems all racing to lead. And they would fall back and have runs on each other. The accident that took out many of them was done on lap 196. Kurt Busch lost contact with Regan Smith. Then Busch was pushed by Tony Stewart into the back of Regan Smith and spun him out. That spinout collected Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin. It also caused Junior to fall out of contention with a flat rear left tire.
Coming out of the wreck you have David Ragan in the #6 UPS car in the lead with Trevor Bayne in the #21 in second. 3rd: #22 Kurt Busch, 4th: #14 Tony Stewart and 5th: #18 Kyle Busch. Ragan and Bayne have been hooked up for a while and plan to have Ragan drop in front of Bayne at the restart to hook back up. The Busch brothers are also planning to team up. So that would leave Stewart out on his own for the final 2 laps. Well, the plan for the #6 and #21 works well except that Ragan drops down into Bayne's lane before the start finish line which is a penalty. But they are going and are starting to open up a lead and on the back stretch, somebody boots the #7 of Robby Gordon out of the field and as he is trying to get back into line bumps Junior who goes sliding into the outside retaining wall. Ryan Newman and AJ Allmendinger wreck into each other.
The final 2 laps saw Trevor Bayne being pushed by Bobby LaBonte up front while the pair of Carl Edwards and David Gilliland came out of nowhere to challenge for the lead. However, when Edwards got along side of LaBonte, Bayne came down and blocked the #99 and came home to finish the 2011 Daytona 500 as the winner. Bayne claimed the $1.5 Million purse for winning and had to change his plans of driving back to North Carolina after the race.
This race had the most cautions, the most leaders, and the most lead changes for a Daytona 500. It had teammates spinning each other out, the most popular driver in the sport in contention until the last 10 laps, and a black flag penalty on the driver that was leading the race into "overtime". However, it wasn't an exciting race to me. The drivers will learn from this race and have better strategies for next time. The track will cure and change over time which will effect the racing. I believe that until they can get Daytona racing where it can be a place where you can have a strategy and actually implement it, it will be one of those races that i truly don't like to watch on the television. This was the luck of the draw basically. But I will say this, it is better than the pack racing that was done here in the past.
As for the predictors on this blog, RJ won the predictions with his 6th place finish of the #42 Target car of Juan Pablo Montoya. I came in 2nd with the finishing of Kyle Busch in 8th. Zebster came in last with AJ Allmendinger finishing outside the Top 10 in 11th. We will have recaps and prediction results throughout the NASCAR season on this blog, so keep checking back and see how bad we are in our predictions.