How big was Jamie McMurray's win?
Huge - maybe the biggest shocker since Derrick Cope won the 500 in 1990. McMurray always has been good, but his end-of-the-year Cup results never reflected his talent. When he left Roush Fenway Racing at the end of 2009 because the team needed to trim from five to four cars, he was out of work. Ganassi and Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris took a chance on him, and he repaid them. McMurray never leaves anything on the table. He'll be in victory lane again this season and fighting for a Chase berth.
The pothole between Turns 1 and 2: How big was that?
It turned out to be a crater - not so much in size but in terms of delays to the race it created. There were some very annoyed - and drunk - fans in the stands, which emptied after the second delay. Safety had to be a priority, but the track never should have been torn up in the first place. NASCAR likes to call the Daytona 500 the Great American Race, run at the home of racing. While weather conditions have been unseasonably cold in Florida, NASCAR should have been more diligent in its prerace track inspections.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. rattled home to finish second to McMurray. Can he continue the form throughout 2010?
Junior will win the Cup championship this year. His fans think so, anyway. But before we get carried away with Dale's performance Sunday, remember there are 35 more races. But Earnhardt is off to a great start, and the No. 88 Chevy has a heap of horsepower. Beard aside, there already appears to be a difference in Junior's attitude.
Could we see Danica Patrick in the Daytona 500 in 2011?
Why not? Robert Richardson Jr. made the race this year. Patrick did OK in her stock-car racing debut at Daytona International Speedway this month. She finished sixth in the ARCA race and was doing a solid job until caught up in a multicar wreck in the Nationwide Series race Saturday. She'll run a dozen or so times in Nationwide in 2010 and compete full-time in the IndyCar Series. Patrick is a racer, not just a driver. There is a difference. She'll improve every outing.
Besides McMurray and Earnhardt, who did you like in the 500?
Greg Biffle (Roush) - he gave Jamie a push, made a grab for victory and showed he is a class act in finishing third. I enjoyed Clint Bowyer (Richard Childress Racing), who placed fourth. Kevin Harvick (RCR) could feel cheated that he ran so hard and finished seventh.