“I hate that I…” I love that phrase. It is the prelude to expressing some measure of regret for some on track transgression in the hopes that these mere words will make everything alright. For instance, “I hate that I got into Kurt [Busch] there at the end racing to the line.” So says Joey Logano after Busch got dumped on the final lap, crossing the line spinning backward in 23rd place Saturday night at Daytona. Well, doesn’t that just make everything just wonderful?
I mean, “I hate that my dog ate my homework, so I got nothing for you.” Maybe “I hate that my excess speed forced you to have to chase me down, officer.” One could try “I hate you found me in the arms of another.” Lovely sentiments, but without any reference to restitution, to make good on what had gone bad, rather meaningless.
To be honest, while Kurt was not pleased, he did sound mature in describing how any hope he had to charge to the front went sideways thanks to Logano. Not a curse word, no profanity, no vivid descriptions of where Joey could shove his weak apology, not a single declaration of revenge. It was damn near genteel.
Brad Keselowski, a man not known for his genteel nature, finally won at Daytona, and like most results on this particular track he had a lot of company coming to the line. Of course, being Daytona, he had less company than when they started. Ninety laps in, Jamie McMurray drifted up, drifted down, touched the side of Kyle Larson, and went back up in front of Jimmie Johnson. McMurray had scraped off a bit of speed. Johnson had not, and bad things happened. Seventeen other drivers got involved as folks got twisted in front of others, or simply run over from those charging from behind.
Thus ended the day for the two principles of the mayhem, along with Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Regan Smith and Brian Scott. Scott was the man sitting in 30th place, just nine points ahead of Tony Stewart when the green flag waved. That meant Smoke just needed to finish 28th or better to move into the position, making his win at Sonoma count, and launching him forward in the standings. Stewart finished 26th. Things were going well for him, at least until his back end did a little flutter with a dozen laps remaining, and he got punted into the fence to conclude his activities. Still, he had a goal and he met it, albeit barely.
Mishaps bent them and shaped them, as the American Breed might have sung back in the 60’s, to leave some running but laps in the dust. Danica Patrick, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott were among those finishing just behind Stewart, between 27th and 32nd. A wreck halted Carl Edwards at 25th.
Keselowski, with his third of the season, was joined by Logano and Austin Dillon with expected Top Tens. Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer were not expected, but hopeful. It moves Bayne to within six points of 16th sitting McMurray on the ladder, as Stenhouse and Biffle are both less than 20 points out. Michael McDowell was 10th and probably more than happy with that result, as he has run eight more races than Stewart, collecting 18 fewer points. Saturday was a good day.
This weekend brings more Saturday action, as the boys and girl head to Kentucky for just the sixth time. Keselowski has two, Kyle Busch the first and the last, with Kenseth taking the race in 2013. Mind you, Johnson has also done well there, with a quintet of Top Tens. As to who needs to do what, Stewart will be okay as long as Scott and Smith remain behind him.
As for Ryan Blaney and McMurray, wouldn’t you just hate for any of the five drivers within 21 points of replacing them among our Chasers do just that this Saturday night? I bet they would.