Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012: Daytona 500 Race

By Keith Antigiovanni

The 2012 Daytona 500 Race finally concluded late monday night with Matt Kenseth winning for the second time in four years but it was a struggle for NASCAR to complete the event because of the weather.

The race was originally scheduled for sunday afternoon but was postponed throughout that day and then most of monday until the race began monday evening which amounted to Monday Night NASCAR for TV viewers.

The media bills this event as the "Super Bowl of stockcar racing" which I dont quite understand because it is the first race of every NASCAR season while the Super Bowl is the final game of the professional football season. Maybe NASCAR has it in reverse which is fine as long as they dont start driving their racecars backwards.

According to NASCAR fans a strong finish in this race gives the teams a good start on the season but it doesnt necessarily equal the NASCAR title. For example Jimmie Johnson recently won five straight racing titles (2006-2010) but only once won Daytona (2006) however you can argue that his 2006 win in this race helped jumpstart a "racing dynasty".

It is interesting to see what drivers won the Daytona during Johnson's reign as NASCAR's champion:
2007: Kevin Harvick, 2008: Ryan Newman, 2009: Matt Kenseth, 2010: Jamie McMurray and 2011: Trevor Bayne.

Richard Petty has the record for most Daytona 500 wins with 7 (1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1981) and Cale Yarborough has the second most with 4 (1968, 1977, 1983, 1984). Out of Petty's 7 NASCAR titles only twice did he win the Daytona 500 in the same year (1964, 1971) and out of Yarborough's 3 NASCAR titles he won Daytona only once (1977) during his 1970's dynasty (1976-1978).A more recent champion Jeff Gordon won 4 NASCAR titles but only once in the same year he won Daytona (1997).

Based on that it is unclear how Daytona 500 can be the "Super Bowl of  stockcar racing". Maybe it is because of the excitement after almost four months off.

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