The running of the Great American race in Daytona Florida proved to be one for the record books. Jimmie Johnson won his second Daytona 500 after a few years of having really bad luck usually crashing out early. In a race where a woman started from the pole for the first time, Danica Patrick drove her car in the top 10 for most of the day was great drama until the very end. She was passed by a few cars at the end after Dale Earnhardt Jr made a daring move with the help of Mark Martin who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
It is fitting that Johnson won the first race with the new Gen 6 car since he was also the first winner when NASCAR switched to the COT (Car of Tomorrow) car years earlier. When Jimmie was asked in victory lane if he had a plan going into the race he responded “We did. We wanted to get this car to the 500. We knew it was the best car for us a and very happy to have it in the 500 and it certainly did its job for us. I just want to give a big shout out to all the fans and also want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everybody yesterday who were injured in the grandstands.”
Danica Patrick Making History
Today’s story was really all about Danica Patrick and her starting the race in the pole position. Danica has arguably done more for NASCAR this season already and we are only in week one. I have a unique position of being in New York City where NASCAR coverage is very very limited. Between Danica winning the pole and the terrible wreck yesterday NASCAR has been featured on both the TV news and in the New York papers. Not just on the back page of the papers either! I can only imagine the international attention she has brought to our sport since most international news stories usually look at the NY news for stories.
Danica finished 8th in the race as she was hung out to dry after Dale Jr and Mark Martin made their move late on the last lap. When asked about it Danica responded “Thanks. You know, it was a solid day, steady day. Got off to a nice start. Wish I would have led at the very beginning. I thought I was going to. So it was nice to lead later on in the race, just to have done that, to lead laps.
But it was steady. I mean, I spent most of the day half throttle running behind people. So, you know, when you get in that line, that nice outside line where it’s just single file, I didn’t feel like it was a wise idea to drop low and try to figure out how to pass. You were going to probably find yourself much further back.
I suppose that’s the only downside to running in that front group all day is that I never got any practice passing, I never tried really anything. The only thing we really did was on those starts, the inside line had a lot of momentum for the first couple of laps. That was the most action that happened until the very end there.
Once that inside line at the end of the race had dedicated followers, it was strong. But once Jimmie got in the outside line, I think it showed that he was fast. So congrats to Jimmie. It was nice to get a Chevy to win the race. But, you know, overall steady day, steady day for me, nice day for Go Daddy, and the crew did a nice job in the pits. So really nothing super-duper eventful.
Dale Jr in his post race interview also chimed in on Danica’s day “She’s going to make a lot of history all year long. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch her progress. I think she’s done her best work in the Cup car myself. I think for whatever reason she seems to get a lot more out of that car.
Every time I’ve seen her in a pretty hectic situation, she always really remained calm. She’s got a great level head. She’s a racer. She knows what’s coming. She’s smart about her decisions. She knew what to do today as far as track position and not taking risks, like she said.I enjoy racing with her. Look forward to more all year long. It’s just going to be a lot of fun having her in the series.”
Mark Martin also had positive things to say about Danica “It’s great for the sport. I agree with everything that Dale said. She did an incredible job today, as well as an incredible job a number of times last year. There will be more of that to come. And it will be good for the sport.”
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Photo’s courtesy of NASCARMedia