The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finished up 10 days at Daytona International Speedway to kick off the 2017 NASCAR season. Here are five takeaways from the weekend:
- Damaged Vehicle Policy: This is a step in the right direction for NASCAR. For those unfamiliar with the rule, let’s explain. If a car gets in an accident on track, they can attempt to fix the car on pit road for five minutes. If they take the car to the garage, the drivers day is done. However, time on the five-minute clock runs yellow line to yellow line on pit road. This is a great thing for NASCAR. The debate of ruining “sponsorship airtime” is ridiculous. Sunday’s Daytona 500 has ZERO debris cautions mostly in part to this policy. If you cannot fix your car in five minutes, then you probably shouldn’t be on the track. Kurt Busch was involved in accident, but his team was able to fix it in the time allotted to win the Daytona 500. The sample size is only one race weekend, gice it some time.
- Stages: Many fans have said that because of the stages, there were more wrecks all of Speedweeks. That is not the case. Every four to six years, the races in Daytona are considered a “Demolition Derby”. The last time that happened was 2012. If the stages were the cause of all the wrecks, then there would have been wrecks at stage end, but the caution never flew at stage end. So far, stages have been great, but there has only been one race weekend as a sample size. Let’s get through the West Coast Swing before we send judgment.
- Day Racing: The Advanced Auto Parts Clash was postponed from Saturday night to Sunday morning. The race saw action throughout. The track was cool to start, but as the race progressed the track warmed up causing handling issues. In my opinion, day racing provides higher quality of racing because of the challenge it provides the drivers.
- Toyota: Toyota came into the weekend with their typical game plan of working together. That game plan worked for most of Speedweeks until the Daytona 500. On the first pit stop of the day, all the Toyota drivers pitted. However, some of their drivers went a lap down due to pit road penalties. When the Toyota’s pitted all by themselves in the second stage, they were too far apart on the track when they came down pit road. When they exited pit road, it took them almost two laps to get hooked up which put many of them a lap down and involved in an accident. Toyota had the best strategy of all the manufacturers, but their execution was not the best.
- Brian France: Mr. France made an unprecedented comment about competition in the driver’s meeting before Sunday’s race. “But what I don’t normally do, and I’m going to do this today, is bring up a competition issue,” France said. “This is for the drivers. And what I want you to think about. We realize blocking is part of racing. We understand that. We accept that. Do not look for NASCAR … when you block somebody out there, and it’s going to happen today. It causes almost all the big incidents. Do not look for NASCAR … you better hope there’s a Good Samaritan behind you who is going to accept that block, because they have that lane and the right to it. And I don’t often make those statements. But I think it’s important today as we go into our most important event to make that really clear with our competitors.” This announcement scratched heads everywhere. The intent of his message was unclear, especially to Steve O’Donnell. This comes on the heels of many reports that France does whatever he pleases without consulting others.
What are your five takeaways from Daytona Speedweeks?