Friday, February 12, 2010

Dueling in Daytona = Great Racing

Saturday was a great day of racing, but it is hard to compete with the two greatest Duel races of all time.

It had been a while since we had seen a true photo finish in a NASCAR race, and then all of a sudden we got two of them in one day. Unbelievable. The rule changes combined with competitive racing and a little bit of luck made Thursday truly a great day for NASCAR.

Every year in the weeks leading up to the Daytona 500, the television crews tell us the Duel races are going to be some of the most intense racing of the season. While often that is true, those races seem to be forgotten quickly as everyone moves onto the 500 and the races that follow. These past two races should not have that same fate. If someone comes up and asks why so many people get a kick out of watching cars drive around in circles for hours on end each weekend, just show them Thursday’s two races.

It was almost surreal to watch that second race come down to the final lap and look exactly like the first race. During race one I did a double take to make sure the race was really as exciting as I thought it was, and then to have the next one finish the same way was almost over the top.

Plus, there was as much emotion in those two races as I have seen in NASCAR in a long time. Both drivers who made the race and those who just missed were both in tears at the end of the day. Max Papis’ interview after racing his way in through the first race summed up what Speedweeks is all about.

"I'm so happy right now for this GEICO Team and I'm so proud of what we've accomplished," he said with tears flowing down his cheeks. "This is special and it's huge for our sponsor GEICO and for this Germain Racing team. We've all worked so hard and it paid off today. It's really great and I feel speechless. I don't even know what to say. I just know that my father is looking down right now and he's proud of what we've done here today. We're going to be racing in the Daytona 500!"

And how about Michael Waltrip, sitting there in the Hollywood Hotel watching the second race after he had crashed in the first Duel with his Daytona 500 hopes riding on every move made in those final laps.

"I know I had an interest in what was happening for myself ... but I've never seen anything more exciting in my whole life than that (race)," he said. "The race for the win, those guys mixing it up, that's hard. If you don't like that, then you need to become a fan of a different sport because that right there is as good as it gets."

Overall, Thursday provided some fantastic entertainment. There is nothing else on television that can compare to the drama that is seen in all sports, and NASCAR is no exception. Casey Mears was one of the drivers who lived that drama and came oh so close to making the big race.

"I thought we had a pretty good car but we just couldn't get any help out there to draft up in the field," he said with moist eyes. "It's disheartening but this team will keep working hard and I'm confident we can get things on the right track. But it would certainly have been nice to be in the Daytona 500."

If there were questions about the excitement level in NASCAR, the Duel races – at least for one day – showed why fans all over the country get fired up when the gentlemen start their engines on Sunday afternoons. Enjoy the Great American Race everybody!


  1. Agreed Mayer - great racing on Thursday and the finishes were both fantastic. We can only hope it will be that way tomorrow.

    I was a little annoyed with the focus on Mikey - while I do love his personality I thought it a little rude focusing on him when he "wrecked" his own chances.

  2. klvalus - True, but the storyline of a two-time Daytona 500 champion sweating it out for a chance to run the final 500 of his career is hard for TV to pass up. Expecially with it being a network that he works for during the season.