That's Racin Magazine

Daytona observations


Monday, Feb. 27, 2012

After so much chatter about Danica Patrick taking her hands off the wheel prior to her hard crash in the 150-mile duel race on Thursday, it was interesting to see five-time champion Jimmie Johnson do the same thing when he wrecked on the second lap.

Patrick went three for three at Daytona – she was involved in a wreck in all three races and she didn’t cause any of them.

Taking Johnson, Patrick and defending champion Trevor Bayne out immediately was a lousy way to start, eliminating three of the most interesting stories coming into the race.

It was inevitable that the crowd for the Daytona 500 Monday night would be smaller than had the weather not interfered on Sunday, but it was an impressive turnout. The infield camping areas had cleared out significantly, but the frontstretch grandstands appeared close to full.

It had to be gratifying to track officials who pushed so hard to make Sunday work despite the miserable conditions. There was no way to make Sunday work nor could they make the planned noon start work on Monday. It was still raining then but it soon cleared. The track was dry by 4 p.m. but another small shower came over the east end of the track, drenching it. Fortunately, the track was dried in time for the 7 p.m. start.

If Fox gets big numbers for the Monday night telecast, could that lead to the Daytona 500 becoming a prime-time event?

There has been plenty of discussion about the short turnaround time for teams with the next race in Phoenix on Sunday. Getting the Daytona race in Monday night was a huge help to teams, many of whom have their Phoenix cars ready to roll. Still, it’s a difficult way to start a season on many levels.

It was unusual to see a pre-race show that, well, wasn’t. They got the big show squeezed in Sunday afternoon between showers, leaving nobody to sing and precious few dignitaries on site. It was all about the racing.

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