By: Becca Cottingham
Headline Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
The Great American Race also known as the Daytona 500 was a thriller. What a crazy couple of weeks leading up to the biggest race in NASCAR. We started off with “The Clash” practice and crazy wrecks involving Chase Elliot and several other drivers. Then we had qualifying for the actual Daytona 500. This came in the old school qualifying racing style. Single car on the track racing for the fastest time. Then the top set of drivers were able to go back out for another lap to determine who would have the pole. In this year’s qualifying we seen the true speed that Chevy has this year. Which is huge compared to last year. The Camaro last year struggled in speed department.
We followed that up with the actual Clash. This ended in what appears to be Jimmie Johnson wrecking Paul Menard that trigger a huge wreck. Then rain entered the speedway causing the official red flag to come out and end the race. This left a lot of drivers wrecked an angry. Plus fans are already saying that the only way Jimmie can win is by wrecking other drivers. Which then leads to this question… Is time for Jimmie Johnson to hang up his helmet? Many then thought that his big news would be was he was retiring after this season. Instead we find that Jimmie being the athlete that he is will be running the Boston Marathon. This is a huge feat for any athlete. Then came my favorite thing about speed weeks: The duels on Valentine’s Day. It made for a fabulous way to end the day of love, watching a sport that I love. Jimmie Johnson again hits a fellow driver: Kyle Busch. Jimmie ask for his crew chief to radio Kyle’s team. Needless to say, Kyle wasn’t accepting his apology. Now to see what Kyle does later in the season. He isn’t one to forgive and forget easily. We had two winners to set the rest of the field for the 500. Kevin Harvick one of the big three last year. Then Joey Lagano last year’s championship winner won the second duel.
The Great American race was off to a good start with few wrecks. Most everyone was well behaved on the track. Minus an incident on pit road. With less than 80 laps to go all bets were off. Drivers started making the their moves and with less than fifteen to go we had the big one. The big one ended in an almost twenty five minute red flag after a driver got a huge push into Matt DiBenedetto by Paul Menard that triggered the big one. This ended up collecting roughly eighteen of forty three cars. Then Daniel Henrico was driving under the Red flag and was parked for the remainder of the night.
With six to go we started the Great American Race again and it became free for all to get to the front. Which resulted in another decent sized wreck that collected almost the rest of Hendricks Motorsports. The caution came out and we were down to a three lap shout out. Which resulted in the number 14 Clint Bowyer trying to pass the number 34 car causing another decent sized accident. This collected Chase Elliot and the Pole winner William Byron. This has left only eighteen cars to run in NASCAR overtime. Overtime ended with Denny Hamlin winning in JD Gibbs honor. This is Denny’s second win at Daytona. It is beyond an emotional win for the entire team. Joe Gibbs himself was even choked up during his post race interview. What an ending to the opening race of the season.