Rain, Earnhardt Spoil NASCAR’s Biggest Day
The 2009 NASCAR season got underway with the biggest race of the year – the Daytona 500. Unfortunately, from start to finish, the race left a lot to be desired.
Fox Sports, without a doubt the premier broadcast network of NASCAR, went overboard with their self promoting race coverage. From their too long pre-race show, to their over the top merchandising efforts, the show was as much about FOX as it was the race. How about this, FOX, leave the gopher to re-runs of Caddyshack. It is almost as bad as that animated mechanical “thing” that spikes the ball on your NFL coverage. One good thing – the pit reporters don’t wear race firesuits like ESPN’s. Take note ESPN, none of the pit reporters caught fire.
The race itself was cut short due to rain, with Matt Kenseth declared the winner after 152 of 200 laps were completed. It is the first Daytona 500 victory for Kenseth, his first race victory in over a year, and the first Daytona 500 victory for team owner and NASCAR powerhouse, Jack Roush.
NASCAR favorite, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a very bad day. Early on he was leading the race when a caution flag gave everyone a chance to make a pit stop. Dale Jr. missed his pit stall and had to go around for another lap and come back to the pits, losing over 30 spots in the process.
On his next chance to make a pit stop, Junior stopped outside his pit stall and received a penalty, putting him a lap down.
Already frustrated at his own ineptitude, Earnhardt finally lost it when Brian Vickers cut him off while attempting a pass. Earnhardt spun Vickers, who careened into the oncoming pack of cars. Earnhardt, meanwhile, kept on rolling through the 9 car pile-up he caused. As usual, he refused to accept responsibility, and instead focused his anger on the rule which penalized him for incorrectly parking outside the pit box, stating, “Maybe it’s time we re- evaluate that rule.” I think it’s time we re-evaluate allowing him to get away with everything because he is popular. Earlier in the week, another driver was given a 3 lap penalty for reckless driving, but Jr. just keeps rolling along, even though he knocked out some of the best cars in the race.
The biggest hit of the day belongs to 18 year old rookie, Joey Logano. While trying to avoid fellow rookie Scott Speed, Logano was clipped from behind and ended up slamming hard into the inside wall. Thankfully, he walked away uninjured. The youngest driver ever to start a Daytona 500 became the youngest driver ever to crash at the Daytona 500.
Hopefully, the rest of the season will provide better races. Better for the fans, better for the broadcasters, and better for Earnhardt.