Daytona delivered. The action and the broadcast were both superb. If you missed it, you really missed something.
Unlike Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He missed nothing. On the good, he claimed the opening two stages. He also managed to punt a third-place car, driven by Kurt Busch, into oblivion when he sent Brad Keselowski up toward him, taking out a pretty fair chunk of the field. He was not done. Later, he got the two lead cars when he hooked Kyle Busch, who proceeded to remove William Byron from the point position. When you’ve taken out the top three cars in any race, including both Busch brothers, you have accomplished something.
Later, when Kyle Larson cut a tire, he hit Stenhouse. Did that finally remove the favorite driver from among his peers? Nope. He managed to finish 17th and collect a total of 40 points for his efforts. Only the race winner matched him in that category. However, Ricky probably lost a hell of a lot of potential Christmas card senders. He should not expect any from a certain family hailing from Las Vegas.
The herd had been severely culled as they neared the end, but when Kasey Kahne looked out his back window with a dozen laps left to run, there were Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. trying to chase him down. However, that did not last long, as Bubba Wallace hooked Clint Bowyer, who in turn took out Harvick.
Of course, they could not finish this thing in a single overtime. By the time the second hit the green, it was Truex and Erik Jones coming to the line, with Kahne and Chris Buescher right behind them. Jones got the push, fought off the defending champion, and put himself in the list of Cup drivers with a career victory. A first win, and at Daytona no less.
With so many sent to the garage, the rest of the Top Ten were not names we usually associate for such a position. For example…
3. A.J. Allmendinger
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Chris Buescher
6. Ty Dillon
7. Matt DiBenedetto
8. Ryan Newman
Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman were next. Those two names almost sound like Petty and Earnhardt compared to those just ahead of them. Then there was the quartet that finished in the next five positions…
11. Jeffrey Earnhardt
12. Brendan Gaughan
13. D.J. Kennington
14. Bubba Wallace
15. David Ragan
At least one was an Earnhardt and one drove for Petty. For some brighter lights on the marquee, Daytona was a dark, dark Saturday night. Some managed to earn 10 points or less…
10 – Aric Almirola
9 – Paul Menard
9 – Chase Elliott
7 – Jamie McMurray
6 – Kurt Busch
4 – Brad Keselowski
2 – Daniel Suarez
1 – Ryan Blaney
1 – Denny Hamlin
1 – Joey Logano
If you want to know what a pinata feels like, ask Logano. In the first big wreck of the night, that boy had his car hit on every corner and places in between. He described it as the crash that went on and on.
So, with all the mishaps spoiling the betting line, did it shake up our Chase contenders any? Nope. The sixteen in remain the 16 in. Jones is much more secure in his place, while Bowman still holds on to the last rung, 19 points ahead of Stenhouse. I guess you could say Stenhouse hit the wrong guys.
As for NBC, the second broadcast of the season was just as awesome as the Chicago effort. Next week is another Saturday night in Kentucky. If they can pull off another excellent, interesting, entertaining presentation from that venue, then there would be no doubt that they truly are for real.
Daytona delivered. So did NBC. In the words of Warden Norton from Shawshank, “Lord! It’s a miracle!” Let us keep those miracles coming.