History was made Sunday. The first points race for the Gen-6 car, Danica was the first woman win a Sprint Cup Pole, the first female to lead a lap and the best finish for a female (8th).
At the end of the day however it was a familiar sight in victory lane as five time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson won his second Daytona 500.
This was a different Daytona 500 for a multitude of reasons, among them the frightening crash at the end of yesterday’s Nationwide race that injured 28 fans and cast a shadow on today’s race.
The good news is that no fans were killed and that all who were injured were in stable condition.
Also the style of racing was completely different in this year’s 500.
Gone were the packs, gone was the tandem draft and in its place what can only be described as a single file 200 M.P.H parade.
Fan’s were outspoken about their dislike of the tandem draft and it is a fact that the tandem draft contributed to yesterday’s horrible crash.
The fact is it produced a thousand times better racing then we saw today.
While there was some drama with a couple of crashes that eliminated several contenders, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch had mechanical failures that eliminated them from contention.
In all honesty this should have been the Daytona 25, because the drivers didn’t race until 10 laps to go and then once Jimmie Johnson grabbed the lead on the restart with 6 to go no one dared step out of line for fear of losing position.
NASCAR and the manufactures deserve a ton of credit for the Gen-6 car design.
It is a great looking car and I do believe that it will race well on the down force tracks that make up the majority of the NASCAR schedule.
However something must be done to improve the racing on the restrictor plate tracks.
NASCAR had all the momentum going for it leading into the 55th Daytona 500.
Danica Patrick was on the pole and that was sure to draw in casual fans.
They also could sell the new Gen-6 car that looks like its street counterpart. The only problem was the race sucked, no ifs, ands or buts about it.
NASCAR has plenty of smart people working for it and just like they will figure out a way to make a better catch fence they will also find a way to make the Gen-6 car race better at the plate tracks.
NASCAR has always been good at listening to criticism and improving upon the product.
The fans didn’t like the COT or tandem drafting and NASCAR eliminated both.
So I’d caution you to read too much into the Daytona 500 as an indicator of the GEN-6 car’s success.
It’s an outlier in terms of the Sprint Cup Schedule, however it is important and when the Sprint Cup series next races at a restrictor plate track at Talladega in April the racing needs to be much, much better
Will Rabb is a producer for Cumulus Broadcasting of Knoxville and the Vol Network, a University of Tennessee Graduate and lifelong sports fan. You can read more of his thoughts on the world of sports and everything else at twitter.com/thewillrabb.