Sunday, July 6, 2008

Daytona - The Aftermath

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The weekend is over and it's time to relax after two great races, the beach and a few adult beverages. Walking back to the motel room last night made me realize what is the best part about racing: The fans. The racing and atmosphere is awesome, but it's the random strangers you meet around the track that makes it special. And what amazed me this weekend was all the people from Pittsburgh. As we headed to our seats Saturday, a crowd next to us started yelling the "We Are ... Penn State" chant. I asked one of the guys if they were from Happy Valley. Nope, he said... Peters Township in Washington County. Turns out he and his wife subscribe to the Observer-Reporter newspaper. Wow...

Now onto the reason I traveled to Florida. The racing was great with quite a few passes for the lead. But the most exciting moves were made by Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he hung the high line to take the lead several times. The crowd went nuts every time, too. He finished eighth after getting shuffled back with a few laps to go.

Even though I can't stand Kyle Busch, I have to give him credit for that save on the backstretch. There's no doubt he should have crashed or at least bent the front splitter by scraping the high bank. But he didn't crash... and he won. Too bad they didn't throw the caution flag a few seconds when Carl Edwards was leading. The funniest moment was when Busch was doing a Polish victory lap with the checkered flag out the window. Someone chucked a beer over the catch fence and it smashed on his windshield. I guess they learned that move from the Talladega fans. That was classy.

Finally, Joe Nemechek sucked it up just as he has for the past 16 years. He qualified fourth, but dropped to 30th by the Lap 5. His car setup wasn't built for drafting and he had to make tons of changes during the first caution. That dropped him to 40th place for most of the race until the massive crash on the last lap. That catapulted him to a solid top-20 finish. Still, my father was unimpressed. "He's field-filler at its finest," my dad said halfway through the race. "He's the stuff they cram into hot dogs. Filler."

Alright, thanks for joining me on this trip. I'll post the photos from this trip in a couple of days. Feel free to e-mail me and send me your NASCAR stories from the track.


Roger said...

Were you close enough to see the Edwards/Gordon incident at the last restart? Strange, but little has been said or shown about the incident. For Gordon, who was running near the top for most of the race, ending up 30th (?) would seem like a story to report. And, if the problem was solely at the hands of Edwards, it would be more noteworthy.

My conclusion is that the problem was one of Gordon, not Edwards. Do you think that a right assessment, or was Edwards at fault?

On a track that is so large, how can you see much, other than what is right in front of you? I've never been there, or any large track. As a spectator, how much of the "round the track" happenings are you aware, or is much information gathered through scanners and radio reports?

Mike Jones said...

Roger, I was sitting closer to Turn 4 so we couldn't see exactly what happened. But there was a lot of bumping for a restrictor plate race, so it basically came down to hard-nosed racing. I'm sure both Gordon and Edwards were going for the win. What can you do?

As for the view, you can see the whole way around the track as long as you're high enough. You just have to keep a close eye on your favorite car down the backstretch, which is probably at least a half-mile away. It's a challenge, but definitely keeps you involved in the race. A lot of people had scanners, but there are two jumbotrons and MRN Radio broadcasts over the loudspeakers to keep you informed. However, I had to call my friend watching at home to tell me why they pulled Tony Stewart from the car.

Roger said...

Mike, that explains much about how the fans keep updated.

Speaking of MRN, why is there no Pittsburgh station that carries their broadcasts? I can't believe the market here is so small that no radio station chooses to carry the broadcasts. The only station I've learned to pick up broadcasts is 107.xx (?) from WV. Is that the best we have?

Mike Jones said...

Your guess is as good as mine, Roger. MRN used to air on 1360 WPTT-AM in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I actually like listening to races on the radio as much as watching it on TV. The announcers are amazing (I love anyone named Barney Hall). But I have no clue why MRN isn't broadcasted here. I can only imagine that stations in Western Pennsylvania think the fanbase isn't very strong here. If my trip to Daytona proved anything, that logic couldn't be farther from the truth. Met several people living in Pittsburgh down for the race. These people weren't transplated, either.

Have you been to any races or do you plan to go?

Amanda Gillooly said...

Your dad sounds like he's too much. Loved the hot dog comment.

Roger said...

Mike, I started watching and taking an interest in NASCAR about 1990. The mix of human and mechanical elements pose the greatest interest for me. Some aspects of the business side of NASCAR I find regrettable -- there is too much money involved for the sport to be straight up.

No, I have never been to a race. My present situation is working six days per week, so getting to a racetrack is out of the question. Maybe my situation will change someday, allowing me time to do these things.

I wish I could get to PPMS more often. A few years ago, I went several times. Somebody I knew pretty well was running, and that made it more interesting. But, now that I'm working six days, often late on Saturday evenings, getting to PPMS is even out of the question. I often see some great Saturday evenings, and think, "... it must be a great night out at the racetrack for racing tonight," but I'm not there. I went to Jennerstown one time. Again, somebody who worked for me was racing -- still is, I believe. But, that is too far and I have nobody to ride up/back.

I wish the reports from these tracks were better kept online. For example, I tried to find out what happened last Saturday night at PPMS, but find nothing. Maybe it was rained out, but even knowing that would be more information than I was able to learn. From my limited exposure, Lernerville seems to have some good, up to date, information on their web page. Again, I've never been there either; only seen the image of the track on Google Earth. It sounds like the Friday night programs are good there, as well as the attraction of World of Outlaws.

So, at the moment, I'm only a sit-at-home sponge, reading newspapers, web pages, etc. to keep up. But, having been to only a couple of races, I know the presence at the track is more exciting.