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Sunday, February 13, 2011

NASCAR's first race of 2011 did not disappoint

NASCAR's first Sprint Cup race of the season at Daytona--the Budweiser Shootout--was at times heart-stopping. 

I admit I may be less than objective when I say that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my favorite driver at the front of the field at the end of the race. It was good to see Ryan Newman's #39 WIX Chevrolet out in front and ever so close to winning the race. A third place finish at Daytona is almost as good.

Congratulations Kurt Busch for the win.

While I'm not sure I would like a season filled with tandem-racing at breakneck speeds, this style of racing is unique to Daytona. This was the first race of its kind--with only 75 laps--so it is difficult to fully determine its appeal. A true assessment will likely become obvious after Thursday's Duels and Sunday's Daytona 500.

The negatives: An individual driver must depend on someone else because no one car is as fast as when another is pushing it. I believe this harkens back to NASCAR's strict mandate that all cars must be created equal. I would much prefer the old days when a team could devise and institute its own advantages without the prying eyes of a sanctioning body ready to pounce on violations. In addition to a fast race car, I believe overall racing success should include strategy and full utilization of technological advancements.

Racing is an individual sport, whether it be a single driver or a single team. This type of racing compromises that concept. Since no single car is as fast as it is with a buddy pushing, this type of racing negates that individuality. I believe that jeopardizes the purity of the competition based on the individual prowess of the driver and his team.

The positives: Speeds of 206 mph make for a pretty exciting spectacle. The concentration and focus needed by drivers to drive in this fashion tests these athletes as much as any racing competition.

An emphasis is placed on teamwork through the drivers' reliance on his spotter.

This style of racing is far superior to watching cars line up in 40-car packs,  driving around in circles until the last few laps when all hell breaks loose.

In conclusion, I did enjoy Saturday's Bud Shootout, but then it was the first actual cup race of the 2011 season. They probably could have driven backwards and I would have enjoyed it.

I look forward to Thursday, and especially to Sunday. I'm hoping for a good season for Newman and his #39 team.