What Did We Learn At Daytona? Nothing.

If you read or hear any media member say this week that Jimmie Johnson is on his way to a sixth title, or that Danica Patrick is a contender, or that the Gen 6 car needs to be tweaked, know one thing: they don’t have a clue.

Did Jimmie win the 500? Yes. Did Danica break some records and finish in the top ten? Yes. Did the Gen 6 car provide some underwhelming racing? You see where this is going. But conclusions about the remainder of the season cannot be drawn based on one race where a small piece of metal atop the intake becomes the great equalizer. Crazy things always happen at Daytona and Talladega (see Trevor Bayne and Brad Keselowski’s first wins).

Michael McDowell and J.J. Yeley both had top ten runs at Daytona, and I don’t hear anyone singing their praises and proclaiming 2013 contention. Let’s be smart and not do the same for any other driver just yet.

So before we start crowing champions, let’s at least give this thing five races before we start prematurely jumping to any conclusions. Deal?

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19 Responses to “What Did We Learn At Daytona? Nothing.”

  1. Marc says:

    I hope the racing is a whole lot better at the non-plate tracks than the single file, low passing affair at Daytona.

  2. Claire says:

    While this has always happened to some degree, it’s exacerbated by the number of outlets currently dedicated to NASCAR. Multiple television programs, 24-hour NASCAR channel on satellite radio, etc. This results in a LOT more hours than can be filled with actual news and/or relevant discussion. The time has to be filled somehow, and the quality of content suffers for it.

  3. KIM says:

    Thank you! I think the worst part for me was listening to the talking heads pontificate that Danica Patrick was going to be the savior of the sport. Who knew that a pole at Daytona could do that for a driver?

    Darrell Waltrip was positively giggling over it!

  4. Doug in CA says:

    Well, I’m a Patrick fan, and what I learned is that she continues to be a breath of fresh air for the sport. She brings it publicity, and any publicity NASCAR gets is good publicity. I also liked her postrace comments, which I translate as, “I’m a rookie and had no clue what to do there at the end, so I finished 8th, and that’s pretty good.” If you think being a Patrick fan means that you have to think that she’s contending for wins every week, well, I guess I’m not a fan. I’d be real happy if she finishes in the top 20 in points and/or if she finishes on the lead lap in half the races. Pretty modest goals, but she’s a rookie.

    Side note: the ROTY contest has been a joke of late, but this year we have two high-profile rookies driving well-funded cars.

    Otherwise, TC, you’re spot on. Plate racing teaches us nothing.

  5. txGreg says:

    @Doug in CA – you’re not alone… I’m apparently “not a fan” right there with you.

    TC – if you have a moment I’d like your perspective on one aspect of the 500. Rather than technical problems with it, do you think that just the uncertainty of a new car (that had already had it’s share of wrecks during speedweeks) combined with the events from the preceding Nationwide race might have accounted for some of the uneventful nature of the race on Sunday? I don’t mean to imply that drives didn’t want to “go for it,” but I wonder how many of them might have been just a bit more cognizant of safety this time out?

  6. Dan says:

    The only thing that is going to stop the 48 team from number 6 this year is the same thing that stopped them last year. Bad luck. I’m not a fan but I wouldn’t bet against them. They are head and shoulders above everyone. Hendrick wants 8 and they are bound and determined to deliver. DARN!

  7. T.C. says:

    txGreg: No, I posted on Wednesday last week that I thought the race was going to be a track position affair. We saw the same thing in the Unlimited and the Duels. This new car has very different aerodynamics, and has made it more difficult to pass in the draft. I promise that the wreck in the Nationwide race had no effect on the Cup race.

    Also, when did I say people couldn’t be Danica fans? All I said was that one good finish in a restrictor plate race doesn’t make a season, nor project what the season will bring.

  8. RA Eckart says:

    What I learned: over the off-season, Tony Stewart had a “come to Jesus” meeting with his new driver, and told her what it would take in Cup. (And I don’t think Tony waited for this for any reason other than he is insanely busy.)

    Whatever that is, it comes with two spoonfuls of humility. I’m a fan of NASCAR in general, so I want to see the medicine work and how long it lasts. The initial readings were better than expected.

  9. fireball doowah says:

    My thoughts:

    1.) Pastrana and Danica impressed me on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. I don’t expect either to maintain the success, but they both had good races for rookies, and show a flicker of talent. I’m not ready to jump on the Go Daddy bandwagon just yet, but I’m close to jumping on the TP bandwagon. That dude can wheel a car.

    2.) Danica is good for the sport. Ratings were up, and my 83 year old father watched his first race from flag-to-flag, hoping “that girl” would win it. I’m expecting many ‘also ran’ races this year, so I doubt the interest will be maintained. But, she is injecting some interest in the sport.

    3.) I have difficulty wrapping my head around Smoke. Dude can be the biggest a-hole in the world, but then turns out to be very elegant and classy in Victory Lane on Saturday (and Sunday night visiting the hospital). Truly a complicated guy.

    4.) I’m thinking the 99 is ‘snake bit’. 5 junk cars in a couple of weeks. I’m sure the cat in the hat was none to pleased with that pitiful display of bad luck.

  10. Neon says:

    What did we (I) learn at Daytona?
    A: I learned that the weather in Daytona was perfect for racing and watching racing, especially considering back home it was cold & rainy.
    B: If nothing else, Gen 6 looks much better than Gen 5…IMO.
    C: DW has obviously renewed his contract w/ DP as her personal PR person. If I were her, I would respectfully pull DW aside and politely ask him to please tone it down a little. I know Mike Joy is the play by play guy and DW is the color commentator, but it seems the only color DW sees is GoDaddy green. Constantly referring to DP as “sweet little thing” to ad nauseum throughout Speedweeks does more to turn fans off than respect her. DW makes Brent Musburger sound like a choir boy. Maybe Stevie Waltrip should write his script.
    D: I learned, again, that JoHanna Long is the real deal that can do a lot with a little. Listened to her via scanner in NW and affirms night and day difference vs DP in focus, know-how and useful feedback. Hope JL will race Sundays when the time is right.
    E: IMO NW debacle DID impact (no pun intended) the 500 ending. JR’s move via Mark Martin was very low risk and the likes of Biffle did absolutely nothing capitalize and project himself forward to capture the elusive 500 crown. Just remember Greg…..winning the regular season points don’t pay squat!
    F: …and yes kudos to McDowell, Yeley and don’t forget about Smith w/ a P7.

    Keep ‘em coming TNI!!!

  11. Zieke says:

    With all the talk being about Danica I guess I have to applaud her for doing a fine job remembering she has all the equipment many drivers merely wish for.
    ‘Ole DW is constantly making an ass of himself, but his swooning over Danica is most embarrassing to everyone. If Fox doesn’t see that they are very very blind.His wife needs to have a talk with him.
    The Gen 6 car may look very cool, but we will have to see how the actual racing is on the coming tracks before making a concrete decision. Hopefully the boredom from Daytona will change.

  12. ATS says:

    TC is correct. Put all the drivers in a hat and pull out the top ten, so getting giddy over DP and claiming she’ll make the chase is a stretch. These next five races will show how DP will perform throughout his season. However, it was good for the sport, as was Jr. running strong.

    As for the Gen 6 car. NASCAR will take a look at and see how to improve the racing at restrictor plate tracks. I expect it to perform nicely at the tracks that are coming up.

  13. Andrew says:

    I have a question that’s slightly off topic but involves Daytona and Talladega. It’s regarding cars going up into the catch fenceing. It always seems to happen in the tri oval or dog leg part of those two tracks. Do you think that is what’s causing the cars to get up into the fenceing? When you take into account the banking and the way momentum carries the car towards the fencing, to me it makes sense. I know there are other factors involved but do the tri oval or dog leg contribute to the problem? No one seems to be able to answer that question or give an intelligent opinion. I’m counting on you guys at TNI.

  14. T.C. says:

    Andrew: The last two times I can remember cars getting into the catch fence was Carl Edwards at ‘Dega, and of course on Saturday. In both cases, the field was coming to the checkered. I don’t know that it’s so much about the tri-oval as it is the drivers going for broke coming to the line. When the field starts wrecking, it’s almost like nobody lifts and just keeps digging for the line. When a car sliding sideways gets hit by another at full speed, nothing good will come of it. In other wrecks, drivers see it starting and start slowing down to try and avoid contact.

  15. Michael in SoCal says:

    Why can’t there be two catch fences? Keep the current one connected to the SAFER barrier, have a safety gap (engineers could figure out how wide this should be) and put up a second catch fence. This would require taking out seats close to the action, but tracks aren’t selling out anymore, so less seats isn’t that big of a deal. Plus Daytona will be redone anyway, so they can build this into their master plan.

    At the very least, this should be done at Daytona & Talldega. And possibly at some of the cookie cutter tracks as well, where the speeds could lead to a car getting into the catch fence.

  16. Eric Marleau says:

    D.W. on Twitter said after the race that it was exciting with lots of strategy.
    This race was flat out boring, and I just wonder how much of a shill for NASCAR and Fox he has become.
    Getting where I can’t stand the guy because he thinks that we are all stupid and will follow his ideas blindly.
    OK D.W., it was an exciting race because you say so. I’m just an idiot because I thing that it was boring as hell.

  17. Woogeroo says:

    Amen TC…. Daytona is it’s own bubble…


  18. Woogeroo says:

    I’m no engineer… but back in the day(pre mid 60′s) before they started adding the front and rear down force aero parts… the cars were slower(horsepower wise) and did not have those aero body parts.

    Why not take those body parts off for the super speedway races?

    The drivers will lift in the turns or spin out, no plates needed… they can mix it up, get away from each other, do some hard racing and hopefully not go flying through the air.

    Every year they promise a ‘good aero’ package and ‘oh we got it right’. It’s like trying to believe a bunch of politicians at this point. I want ‘em to figure it out, but that freight train watching this past Sunday during the 500 did not turn my crank.

    my .02 cents.

    Now for the real racing to begin this week… woo hoo.

    gO Chevy!


  19. royal brown says:

    they wreak in the dogleg because that’a where the finish line is.
    It’s the time to go part of the track.

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