Saturday’s NASCAR Racing Experience 300 a solid race with few flaws

by Joseph Shelton On Sun, Feb. 17, 2019

Photo by by Bruce Nuttleman for Speedwaymedia.com.

Following Michael Annett’s long-overdue win in Saturday’s NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona, many fans and NASCAR peers took issue with the show the Xfinity Series put together, calling it lackluster and boring.

It’s easy to see why many of those who watched the race were upset, since there wasn’t constant three-wide racing, a huge crash, and leaders only leading for a lap at a time (if that is the benchmark for great racing these days). But in terms of numbers, the race actually put together a solid show for the fans and the racing world. Four cautions for 19 laps (the two extra being for debris and a single-car spin, respectively). 13 lead changes among nine drivers. A .278-second margin of victory. To top it all off, a perennial underdog became a first-time winner.

On the flawed side of things, it makes sense why people would be upset at the late laps of the race, with the majority of the leaders waiting until the very end to make a (failed) move for position while otherwise running single-file. So many times, fans and drivers are robbed by the single-file run to the finish at Daytona and Talladega, many times ending in an anti-climatic trip to Victory Lane by a winner who was otherwise unchallenged.

Despite all that, though, there were multiple attempts by drivers to go for it and gain position. Guys like Noah Gragson, Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, and Jeffrey Earnhardt were all pulling their weight and trying to make a go for the lead. But with the nature of the draft and the single-file racing the most they could accomplish was a leap-frogging run to the front. On that note it can’t be said that they didn’t make an effort to race and put on a good show, especially in comparison to absolute flops like the 2014 Xfinity season opener or the 2003 edition of this race, which featured a whopping two lead changes.

If anything, it’s become difficult to differentiate between a good, solid race and a reeeaaalllyyy great race. To some, every Daytona race needs to have no fewer than 38 lead changes, three multi-car accidents, and the leader needs to be wrecked at least a half-mile before the checkered flag. But that doesn’t mean the 2019 edition of this race was without fun or suspense. Every driver drove a solid, clean race, and with 28 drivers on the lead lap at the checkered, it could have been anyone’s race. The driver who led the most laps didn’t exactly dominate – he inherited the lead late in the going and managed to hang on to it through excellent defensive driving. There was the suspense of whether or not he could seal the deal and score his first win. There was even a touch of weird; Brad Keselowski was forced to retire from the race when his roof hatch flew off of the car.

The fans and NASCAR contemporaries are going to have their own opinions as to what constitutes an excellent NASCAR race and what counts as a NASCAR flop. That said, Saturday’s race was a solid, fun event. It wasn’t excellent, but it’d be close-minded to say the race was a flop.

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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