AFTER MULTIPLE SCENES LIKE THIS AT DAYTONA ON SATURDAY NIGHT, NASCAR BODY PANEL SUPPLIERS WILL BE EXPERIENCING RECORD SALES ON MONDAY. IMAGE COURTESY OF WWW. KRMG.COM
WHAT HAPPENED, AND WHERE
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, DAYTONA, FLORIDA: 22-year-old Gibbs Racing driver Eric Jones won his first-ever NASCAR Monster Energy Drink race on Saturday night, after receiving a healthy shove from competitor (and Chevrolet driver) Chris Buescher, pushing him into the lead, and around Martin Truex Jr at the end of the double-overtime, crash-tacular race.
The first-time Monster Energy Drink series win by Jones, the driver of the #20 Toyota, was unfortunately only one of the few highlights from the Saturday night Crash-o-Rama at Daytona Speedway, as heavy crashes, typically a late-race hallmark of this particular track, began early in the second stage of the event, well before the 80-lap halfway point of the 160-lap race.
The final results, after four hours of racing, gave only little indication as to how many crashes...in some cases involving the same cars in multiple incidents...occurred at the 2 1/2 mile tri-oval super-speedway.
The reasons for double-overtime? NASCAR mandates that races within their series should finish under green-flag conditions, and not under yellow or with caution flags waving. They're allowed two additional attempts at a green-white-checkered if the yellow flag flies during the last lap, so you've got a total of three attempts to finish the race at full speed.
Both additional 'overtimes' were used to bring the Coke Zero Sugar, Zero Taste 400 to a close, as drivers found it mysteriously difficult to complete two laps in a row at the end of the race without blowing a tire, running into someone else, or drive in a straight line for more than 100 feet.
To summarize four hours of race into a single paragraph, Stage 1 of this event was an uneventful snoozer, Stage 2 began the Car Crash Apocalypse, and the Final stage began the "Race To Round Off All Four Corners Of Each Race Car", where the bulk of the crashes occurred.
It should be noted that there was only one caution period where someone brought out a yellow flag and didn't hit anything, and that driver (of the #96 Toyota) was given an additional $200 million dollars in prize winnings for possessing the driving ability to spin a car and not take out 30 other automobiles. That driver, D.J. Kennington (a part-time NASCAR driver), ended up finishing 13th, and swore afterward that he would immediately transition from racing at Daytona to a much-safer sport, such as competitively fighting packs of rabid hyenas.
Stage 1 winner: Ricky Bobby Stenhouse Jr.
Stage 2 winner: Ricky Bobby Stenhouse Jr.
Final stage winner: Eric Jones, and even he couldn't manage to win the race with four intact corners on the car.
1. Only 21 out of 40 race cars were still shown to be 'running' in the final race standings. What that story does not tell you, however, is that quite a few of those cars were involved in multiple 'big ones', the colorful term for the typical, half-the-pack-involved crashes which involved, oddly enough, half the pack each time one happened...anyway, several of these cars were involved in multiple crashes, and some still managed to finish the race, and in some cases, in the top ten.
2. Many of the top contenders for the championship run at the end of the 2018 Monster Energy Drink season were wiped out fairly early in the first and second 'big ones' in the second stage of this race. What this created was a situation where drivers who were formerly the backmarkers you see at every race ended up towards the front of the field by the time the race moved into its 3rd and final stage.
3. Ricky Bobby Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, found himself involved, quite possibly, in more wrecks than any other driver during the Coke Zero Motivation 400 at Daytona. He was somewhat involved in the first big one where the driver of the #24 Chevrolet, Not Jeff Gordon, pulled a ridiculous block in an attempt to stop a rocketing Brad Keselowski from overtaking the #24.
The problem was that Ricky Bobby Stenhouse Jr. was pushing the #2 Ford Fusion of Keselowski forward at the time.
Not Jeff Gordon darted over to block the pass...never mind that some 116 laps still remained...Keselowski darted to the left to avoid mowing down the #24 of Not Jeff Gordon, Ricky Bobby Stenhouse Jr. in the #17, having been hooked to the rear bumper of Keselowski, Stenhouse's Roush Racing Ford Fusion didn't react in time, and accidentally spun the #2 into the wall. This particular chain-collision accident took out half the field...for now, anyway.
The second 'big one' during the second stage also had something to do with the driver of the #17, Ricky Bobby Stenhouse Jr. He accidentally side-drafted (the aero of NASCAR cars here of late is something of a disaster) into the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch (our dastardly, mustachio-twirling villain/race winner from last week at Chicagoland), which took out somewhat-smaller parts of half of the remaining half of the field.
4. The #48 Rick Hendrick Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 of Jimmie Johnson received quite a bit of positive free press today, as he managed to stay mostly out of the early pack-crash shenanigans...and looked like a contender to win the race at one point...but ended up having some of the most ridiculous luck, as he began having electrical problems, needing two new car batteries, and eventually crashing something like eight times before retiring from a final crash during one of the seventy or so overtime sessions after the official end of the race.
5. Remember Ricky Bobby Stenhouse Jr.? In addition to his chicanery that he was involved with concerning the first two 'big one' pack accidents, the #17 was involved in several crashes during the final stage, and ended the race in 17th place, one lap down, after getting involved in yet another crash, which pushed in on the left-rear fender...which eventually caused the tire to explode, and shred a fair bit of the driver's side of the car during the last lap or two of the race.
He also received the two stage victory points for Roush Racing, the first such points of any kind for Roush Racing in all of 2018.
1. The underdog hero of the race: Michael McDowell, known as the M&M Backmarker, driving a Roush Racing-prepared Ford Fusion. He actually led twenty laps of this race, and looked like a strong contender to win it, only to crash out during the Great Crash of Lap '29.
2. The sleeper of the race: Martin Truex Jr. I don't know what was under the hood of the Martin Truex Jr. #78 Furniture Racing Toyota, but he was able to move back and forth through the field at ease. Obviously going backward isn't too terribly difficult, but moving back up, even out by himself, nearly out of the draft, that's typically impossible without some drafting help...and Truex did not need any.
3. All three Penske Ford Fusions were wiped out during the same, early 'Big One' on lap 54. They even came to rest within a dozen feet or so of each other.
4. Ricky Bobby Stenhouse Jr. is actually Danica Patrick's former NASCAR boyfriend. I wonder if that has anything to do with how he performed today.
See you next weekend, at Kentucky Speedway.