I have to say that I found the action on the track very interesting last weekend. The drive to the 57th running of the Daytona 500 is in full swing. We have a pole sitter and a car that is going to start next to him after group qualifying was completed on Sunday.
A week or so before the first on track action of the season, Jeff Gordon announced that the 2015 campaign is going to be his last full time drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. If you are a reader of this blog, you probably already know that I am a Gordon fan. I try to keep my personal cheering for Gordon out of my writing, but I am sure it shines through from time to time.
I have to admit that when the news flashed onto my phone that Gordon was going to retire, I really was not all that surprised. I looked at the phone and simply thought what a career with one season to go. We have known for some time that Gordon has suffered from back issues. Those issues flared last season at least a few times that I recall.
I do not believe that I have even one eighth of the back problems that Gordon has, but I have dealt with back pain myself. There have been times it has been just everything I can do to stretch far enough down to put socks on. I could not imagine being strapped into a car with very little room to move for three to four hours at a time. Then to consider what it would feel like if you wrecked the car.
With the back issues Gordon has, what does the man really still have to prove in this sport? Another championship would be nice, but does he need it to prove he is a great driver? No, not really. A win at Kentucky? Yes, that would be fun to say that he has won at all the active tracks. Overall, Gordon has had a storied career. His legend has only been bolstered with wining the pole on what will be his last ride in the Daytona 500. Oh, and by the way, his teammate Jimmie Johnson will start second.
Group qualifying for the first time ever for the Daytona 500. I was a fan. I enjoyed watching the groups and seeing the cars simply sit there on pit road and jockey for who was going to be go out first or be at the back of pack. I should really say who was not going to be at the front of the pack.
With about 90 seconds left in the first round for group A, a wreck occurred. Involved in that wreck was Clint Bowyer. There was no doubt that Bowyer’s main ride for the 500 was destroyed. There was no fixing that car and getting it into the Duels on Thursday evening.
After being cleared from the infield care center, Bowyer ripped NASCAR for the qualifying format for what is considered the most important race of the season. My opinion of this whole rant was sour grapes from Bowyer. We always here from NASCAR that each race in their eyes is equal. I would have to agree. The Daytona 500 should have group qualifying like all the other races. I am fine with the Duels being added in for this race as well. I found it much better watching the groups than a single car run for the front row. Saved me three hours of watching basically 40 cars not having a shot at getting the pole.
Finally, I would argue that the first 26 races of the season are of equal importance, and then the last 10 races of the season each have their own level of importance. Clint, quit your bitching about the qualifying format. If you do not like it, I am sure they are looking for some talent in the ARCA series.
Speaking of the ARCA series, if you missed their opening race on Saturday afternoon, you missed an entertaining race. I do not follow ARCA closely, so it is not really important who won the race. What I can say is that two thing happened during the race that I have never seen.
First was a pit crew member went to fuel a car. The cap on the end of the fuel can that goes into the car was not attached properly. It came off and the fueler was completely doused in fuel. They showed him after and they were spraying the guy down with something from aerosol cans in order to get the fuel off. I have never seen something like that in any level of stock car racing.
Finally, there was an interesting caution in the ARCA race. The flag man had the passing flag in his hand. With no cars going by, or what appeared to be in the vicinity of the start finish line, the flag man dropped the passing flag and it was on the track. A caution had to be called for this. My thoughts on this, hire me to be the head flag man for the ARCA series. I will make sure a flag does not get dropped on the track. One thing to keep in mind though, it is Daytona and you never what is going to happen there.
I hope the week goes by quickly for all those looking forward to the Duels on Thursday, and additional racing later this weekend at Daytona from all of NASCAR’s top levels. I will miss the Duels on Thursday to attend a local hockey match, will record and watch it though. Hoping for a number of fights in the game. Love hockey, enjoy the fighting in it as well. I hope to write something on Friday on my picks for the Sunday race. Have a great one, and let me know your thoughts. Leave a comment on whether you liked or disliked the group qualifying for the Daytona 500.
I also am looking forward to interacting on Twitter on Sunday, @troublinturntwo .