The 2014 Sprint Unlimited is in the books and we can put this one under the “odd” category….but I’m sure the ominous full moon above the track had nothing to do with it. We had big wrecks, angry Earnhardt’s, three wide passes for the lead, the pace car going back to the garage on the hook, and even a dancing orange cone. Yeah, it was a wild and wacky night.
Expect More Passing in This Year’s Daytona 500
This year’s Sprint Unlimited was a big step up from its 2013 predecessor, which was fairly forgettable. There was passing galore and cars were able to suck up to each other better and actually bump draft, contradictory to last season. The closing speed was hard to judge for spotters and drivers alike, which resulted in a massive pileup in the tri-oval during the second segment. Slingshot moves for the lead were abundant and even after the crash that left just eight raceable cars on track, the drivers continued to put on a heck of a show and race hard for the lead. The race was very exciting and bodes well for what we will most likely see in the Daytona 500, when we put 43 cars on the track and dangle a Harley J. Earl trophy in front of them.
When in Daytona, Start Stuff on Fire
Well, this is becoming some kind of odd tradition at Daytona International Speedway – in the last two years, we’ve watched a jet dryer, the race track, and now, the pace car catch fire during a race. While Brett Bodine led the field under caution, smoke started to pour out of his Chevy SS pace car, so he and his co-pilot bailed out of the machine as the trunk area started to burn. A statement from Chevrolet regarding the strange incident…
“The pace car experienced a fire in the trunk area, which contains a purpose-built auxiliary electrical kit to operate the numerous caution lights during the race. The pace car driver and passenger safely exited the vehicle. An assessment is underway.”
2013 Injuries Not Bothering Stewart & Hamlin Anymore
The Sprint Unlimited was Tony Stewart’s first race back since he broke his leg last summer and not surprisingly, he was one of the first to try to mix it up early on, picking off drivers who were riding around the outside one-by-one. During the second segment though, Matt Kenseth cut across Joey Logano’s nose and consequently, carnage ensued. Nine cars, including Stewart were involved; seven of which were destroyed. Tony was unhurt in the crash and walked away under his own power. Denny Hamlin, who suffered a broken back at Auto Club Speedway last year, picked up where he left off in 2013 when he won the season finale. He took the pole (due to a fan vote), and then won the every segment en route to the victory after an enthralling three wide pass for the lead with less than two laps to go.
Fox Sports New Running Order Graphic Needs to go Away
Fox Sports has decided to replace the ticker that runs across the top with a box that takes up the entire far-right side of the screen. Many fans have complained about it, Brad Keselowski has expressed his displeasure with it, and hopefully it will be changed before the Daytona 500. Brad Keselowski tweet – “Not cool- @FOXSports1 new graphic that covers the right side of the screen.”
Jimmie Johnson’s Love-Hate Relationship with Daytona Continues
Jimmie Johnson and Daytona International Speedway have had an interesting relationship since 2006. In the last eight Daytona 500’s, he has finished 27th or worse six times. The two races that he finished higher than that were wins. In this year’s Sprint Unlimited, he was attempting to make a pass on Denny Hamlin for the lead at the end of segment one when he lost control and crashed into the inside wall off of turn four. It was the third time in as many years that the six-time series champion has DNF’ed in the exhibition race.