• For NASCAR, sometimes it’s not always the outcome you want, but the outcome you get, that provides the biggest surprise. Certainly, no one wanted to see nearly two weeks of preparation during Speedweeks culminate with a nearly 6 1/2-hour rain delay as NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway worked feverishly to get the Daytona 500 underway. Yet, could it have been any better for NASCAR in how it turned out? A prime-time race with edge-of-your-seat excitement and a victory by the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. It doesn’t get much better.
• Earnhardt Jr. certainly is a man of his word. During a prerace TV interview with Michael Waltrip, Earnhardt Jr. said if he won the 500 he finally would join Twitter – something many of his fans have craved for years. At 2:33 a.m. Monday, the following message was posted to the @DaleJr Twitter account, which Earnhardt Jr. had reserved long ago: “Tonight seemed like as good a night as any to join Twitter. How is everyone doin? #2XDaytona500Champ.” It was accompanied by a photo of Earnhardt Jr. grasping the winner’s trophy.
• Intentional or not, the new Chase format unveiled by NASCAR last month certainly played into Sunday night’s race, particularly in drivers’ comments after it was over. When asked if his third-place run got his season off to a strong start, Brad Keselowski responded, “Points days don’t mean anything anymore.” Mission accomplished.
Patrick had to start from the rear of the field Sunday because of an engine change last week and was running mid-pack on Lap 145 when she got caught up in a 10-car accident on the frontstretch. Her car was too damaged to continue and she ended up with a 40th-place finish.
“I think more than anything I am just upset because the car felt really good,” Patrick said. “It seemed like we could catch whoever and it seemed like we could move around, make lanes and just move around and move forward at the end of the day.”
“The car was just so good and we were just riding around and biding our time you know, being patient and trying to get to the end of this thing,” he said. “Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.”
He eventually required a lengthy trip to the garage, where his team replaced the fuel cell and all of its electronic pieces. He returned to the track on Lap 146 but ended up with a 35th-place finish.
Once the race – which Jimmie Johnson won – ran its course, several fans posted messages on Twitter congratulating Johnson. Unfortunately, so did several media outlets, including Fox News.
Five key moments