This weekend was the start of the NASCAR racing season with the ARCA race that saw Michael Self towing the remaining cars across the finish line, with Hailie Deegan staying in line to record her first ever runner up position at Daytona. She tied Shawna Robinson and Erin Crocker for the best finish by a woman in ARCA history.
While there was some attrition due to wrecks, the race was actually less crash filled than the Cup Busch Clash race on Sunday. That was insane.
Most of the Busch Crash ran without issue and saw two different strategies playing out. The Chevy teams led several cars that were playing a fuel mileage race. They were counting on saving enough fuel so when the other drivers battling up front would need to stop, they would assume the lead.
Well that didn’t quite work out when the drivers who were racing hard stopped for fuel came back on track and were so much faster than the others that the two groups soon got together and all heck broke loose. With just nine laps to go, Kyle Busch was trying to get around, you guessed it, Joey Logano. As usual, Joey started throwing ill-timed blocks. I don’t know if it was a matter of more horsepower, the huge spoiler or Joey just being an idiot, or a combination thereof, but Kyle went low and Logano either tried to block and lost it or the air just pulled his car around, but it led to a significant crash that knocked Brad Keselowski and Busch out of the race. Keselowski was quite vocal about the driving style and started to sound a lot like Tony Stewart in his prime.
With just three to go, Ryan Newman, William Byron and Kevin Harvick all got together on the restart wrecking nearly the rest of the field. Did they forget just how much horsepower they had and spun their wheels? Who knows. Byron and Martin Truex, Jr. were knocked out of the race.
Now on to overtime where Denny Hamlin was being pushed by Chase Elliott. Hamlin was leading the field when he lost a tire – a tire that he knew was probably going down yet he stayed out and caused a ginormous wreck. Harvick and Jimmie Johnson, who had escaped the previous accidents, are both out of the race and the race was put under a red flag.
They try again and Chase Elliott was pushing Kyle Larson, who also threw a few blocks, that not only turn him while leading but causes a wreck that collects a few more cars. Now there are just 6 cars on the track and only 5 on the lead lap. Hamlin is a lap down after pit road repairs to his car.
The race finally resumes and it looks like a battle for the lead between Dillon, Bowyer and Larson. Hamlin gets behind the battered Toyota of Eric Jones and pushes him to the front like they were shot out of a canon. Jones takes the checkers with Dillon finishing second.
A lot of cars were heavily damaged and thus putting the whole back up car for the 500 thing in jeopardy. With the Duels this week to set the rest of the field, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr and Alex Bowman secured the front row, there should be a lot more give and take than we saw during the Busch Crash. Otherwise we’ll see a lot more crashing in the 500 like we saw in this race. There are a lot of young drivers this season and a lot of new driver and crew chief combinations.
Let’s hope that smarter heads prevail and we have a good race and not a 200 mph demolition derby.
(Image courtesy of NASCAR Media)