The following is semi-live coverage of the Daytona 500, The Great American Race. For those who think that only the last 20 laps of a NASCAR race are important, you’re partially correct. However, this post will hopefully open your eyes to the glory of watching an entire race, lap by lap.
Pace Laps The broadcast crew discusses that Carl Edwards’ wife is due in four days. This could make for one hell of a victory lane celebration.
Boogedy Boogedy Boogedy That sounds beautiful after nearly three long months.
Lap 1 Mark Martin leads the first lap. Could this be the year that Mark finally gets his Daytona victory? It would truly be the feel good story to end all feel good stories.
Lap 5 Baby-faced Budweiser spokesman Kasey Kahne takes the lead for the first time. Many talking heads are predicting a big win for Kahne. We’ll see.
Lap 8 Remember the touching moment when Max Papis qualified for his first Daytona 500 on Thursday and was overwhelmed with emotion? Yeah, welcome to Daytona. Here’s your first wreck.
Lap 14 Dale Jr. takes his first lead of the day, obligatory standing ovation ensues. This guy’s fan support truly has indestructible legs.
First Kahne Budweiser commercial of the race airs. That commercial definitely had Kahne chugging a beer in its initial stages. MADD strikes again.
Lap 24 Another analyst favorite, Kevin Harvick, takes his first lead.
Two Carl Edwards Ford Fusion hybrid commercials in the same break. Somewhere Cale Yarborough is throwing a boot through his television.
Lap 45 A.J. Allmendinger takes lead largely due to some green flag pit stops. Huge victory for all of those suppressed by their 12-letter last names.
Lap 49 Kurt Busch pins his ears back and goes for the lead. Pun intended.
Lap 50 First, and likely the only, shout out to Front Row Joe Nemechek. The pride of Lakeland, Florida.
Working in the traveling “Hollywood Hotel” has officially become a dream job of mine.
Lap 60 The true beginning of the typically dull second 125 mile quarter. Green flag pit stops have the cars more spread out than fans at a Nets game. Cruise along, hold your position, wait for the caution that bunches everybody back up and causes a hellacious second half of the race.
If you are reading this and you love us, you will go to ToyotaRacing.com and make/submit a Sports Casualties car. Something tells me that winning that contest would garner us a couple of hits.
Lap 67 Poor Nemechek is involved in the second wreck of the day. Open-wheel drivers – this time, Sam Hornish – strike again.
Are announcers going to refer to the #2 Miller Lite car as the “Blue Deuce” all season? Terrible nickname, but it does seem to fit the actual driver of the car quite well.
“I’ve always said if you could go out there and poke one of these cars in the corner, you could wreck ‘em.” I could honestly watch Darrell Waltrip announce anything and be perfectly happy. And by anything, I could possibly even mean the dunk contest. Yes, he’s that good.
Lap 77 Currently going undetected: Martin Truex having a nice run in his first race with Michael Waltrip Racing. That new #56 looks alright on him so far.
Side note: I really like that MWR seems to make a bit of an effort to stick drivers in traditional family number cars. The #00 has been in the Reutimann family for generations, and I’ve heard that the same is true for Truex with the #56. It adds a nice traditional touch in a sport where family traditions can mean so much.
“Alice in Wonderland” looks terrible. It’s like Tim Burton said “Alright, you know how everybody kind of talks about Charles Dodgson being on acid when he wrote this? Well, let’s make sure everybody knows he was.”
Lap 93 Jamie McMurray driving the Bass Pro Shops car in ninth place, Kasey Kahne driving the Budweiser car in tenth place. Maybe the two most unfitting driver/sponsor relationships riding together.
Lap 99 Jeff Gordon throws his name back in the game and takes his first lead of the race to a standing ovation. Ovation is part him taking lead, part somebody passing Kyle Busch. Not too long ago Gordon was in Busch’s shoes.
Lap 100 The best halftime is no halftime.
Fox shows the 1979 Donnie Allison-Cale Yarborough wreck/fight for approximately the 118,978,287,567,457,839,205th time in television history.
Lap 120 Jimmie Johnson catches major lucky break of the day when he blows a tire…in turn four just as a caution is coming out for John Andretti. Yes, John Andretti still races in NASCAR. Who remembers when Andretti won the 1997 Pepsi 400? I do! I do! Long live the RCA car.
Lap 122 Daytona International Speedway is falling apart! A piece of the track comes out and we are red flagged for what is expected to be about 10 to 12 minutes. Daytona is the world’s most famous race track, they must re-pave it on a regular basis, right? Wrong, last time the speedway was paved: Aug. 1978.
With 78 laps to go, there have already been 18 different leaders in this race which ties a Daytona record. Expect 78 very intense laps when this race goes back green.
While we’re under red, here is a quick recap of my top five favorite Daytona moments that I have seen in person.
5. Belligerently drunk man decides to become Tony Stewart’s own version of Fireman Ed. That’s right there were continuous “T-O-N-Y, TONY! TONY! TONY!” chants. There was creative cheerleading, strikingly great body language and an exhilarating attempt to throw a hot dog and beer onto the track. This of course eventually ended in a late race ejection.
4. First ever trip to a Daytona race. This was a truck race when I was 16 years old. Just seeing a race at the place for the first time was magnificent.
3. Jack Sprague wins the Daytona truck race in a thrilling three-wide finish. Probably the best complete race that I have ever been to. This race had everything. Constant action throughout, wild crashes and an absolutely amazing finish.
2. Tony Stewart wrecks Kyle Busch to win the 2009 Coke Zero 400. Fantastic finish that couldn’t have ripped off a more deserving villain. Busch hit the wall directly in front of where I was sitting, and the joy lasted for days.
1. My first, and only, Daytona 500. Excellent experience, the kind of event that gives you chills throughout. Fan or not, everybody should attend a Daytona 500 in their lifetime.
Remember that 10-12 minute delay? Well, after 1 hour 41 minutes, that 10 minute delay is over. Green flag racing.
Lap 161 After a rather uneventful 39 laps, Daytona International Speedway is falling apart again! A hole has developed lateral to the one that caused the previous delay.
Exclusive: The track at Daytona speaks.
No time guarantees on this one, but the second red flag has reigned over this track for 46 minutes, and it is now time to start the engines for a third time today.
Lap 174 Scott Speed, yes Scott Speed, takes the lead with just 26 laps left in the Daytona 500. Speed, known as the best name with the a small resume in NASCAR, is looking for a dream.
Lap 185 Dream over for Speed. He gets shuffled to the deadly middle and drops faster than a Seaside Heights delinquent trying to fight Ronnie. Biffle to the front. Jimmie Johnson has another flat tire, this time it’s off to the garage.
Lap 193 The top five breaks away from the rest of the field only to be brought back to reality on Lap 194 when Elliot Sadler gets loose and takes out Ryan Newman and Travis Kvapil. Yes, Kvapil is driving the Extenze car, and yes he just pounded into the inside wall.
Lap 198 Bill Elliot and Joey Logano wreck into each other which brings out the caution meaning one thing, FREE NASCAR! Overtime.
Lap 203 Kasey Kahne wrecks with some assistance from one Jeff Gordon. Did Kasey get loose, or was Jeff the official cause here? You watch Sportscenter and decide. Until then, more overtime!
Lap 206 The green flag waves for the final time over a top five of 1 – Kevin Harvick, 2 – Jamie McMurray, 3 – Carl Edwards, 4 – Greg Biffle, 5 – Jeff Burton.
Lap 208 McMurray took the lead from Harvick on Lap 207, but the story of 208 is Dale Jr. who charges from 10th to a near victory. However, McMurray hangs on and becomes the ninth different driver to win the 500 in the last nine years. Final top five results: 1 – Jamie McMurray, 2 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 3 – Greg Biffle, 4 – Clint Bowyer, 5 – David Reutimann.
McMurray breaks down in victory lane with his father and wife, a truly wonderful moment.
Overall, a unique Daytona 500 that lasted roughly six hours including delays. The final 32 laps were some of the best and most frantic racing that the sport has seen in a while. McMurray’s surprise victory will certainly be a topic of discussion, but the big story might be Earnhardt and whether or not this is the season that he truly comes back.
It’s been fun.