Thoughts from Daytona Dale Wilkerson
This year's Daytona 500 left me with a few thoughts.
I was given the chance to attend this race last week, and I jumped at the opportunity. My friends in Jacksonville were gracious host, and they truly reminded me of the phrase "Southern Hospitality."
As I walked down pit road around 12-noon, I remembered the first live broadcast of the Daytona 500. 2/18/1979 was remembered for the huge snowstorm that blanketed most of the east coast, and Cale, Donnie and Bobby being involved in the third turn, post race, Donnybrook. This reminded me that tempers sometimes get the best of us.
The race in '79, like many before and most after until the late 90's, began around 12:30pm to 1:00pm. Knowing what the weather forecast was for the late afternoon-early evening, I thought to myself, if they would start this race at 12:30 this year, we might see all 500 miles. Since we only saw about 380 miles Sunday, I was reminded that some things were done a certain way for reason back in the good ole days.
Travis Kvapil crashed the Yates Racing #28 Ford. With this team looking for a sponsor, this crash was the last thing they needed, but the crew jumped on the car, made repairs, and Kvapil returned to the race. This reminded me to never give up.
A few laps later, Greg Biffle spun rookie Joey Logano after Logano attempted to avoid hitting fellow rookie Scott Speed. As his crew pounded on the car only, to realize it was beyond repair, I thought of what Logano may be thinking which was what I was told one of the first times I played pool, just hit 'em hard and hope for the best.
Several teams (Kvapil, Stremme, Gordon, Martin, Newman, and Earnhardt to name a few) had tire issues during Speedweeks this year. Some tires wore out to quick and others just blew out. This tells me two things. First, get my car re-aligned and have some chamber taken out, so more of the tire will be in contact with the road. Second, make sure I purchase road hazard insurance with my next set of tires.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was penalized one lap for pitting with his right front tire on the line indicating where he should not have parked for work. All drivers, on our public highways, know if we park on a line, we will have a door dinged. All NASCAR drivers know if you pit on a line, you will loose a lap. This reminds me of a coloring book, the picture looks better if you stay inside the lines.
Saturday Jason Leffler clipped Steven Wallace, (shortly after Wallace had cut him off) with Wallace and two other drivers pounding the wall, resulting in Leffler receiving a five lap, rough driving penalty.
So during the 500, Earnhardt, after being forced below the double yellow lines by Brian Vickers, clipped Vickers and triggered a nine car pileup, resulting in no penalty for Earnhardt. This made me wonder, since Leffler lost five laps for wrecking three cars, should Earnhardt had lost 15 laps for wrecking nine cars?
My last thought is to NASCAR. The Earnhardt-Vickers wreck was due to lap-down cars being allowed to restart on the inside of the lead-lap cars. Let's follow the local-short track rules, if you are a lap down, go to the rear and earn your lap back.
With those lap down cars out of the way, how about some double file lead lap restarts. NASCAR this would sell some tickets.
Finally, if I get to go back to Daytona next February, I will take a heavier jacket, some Diet Dr. Pepper, and a pocket-sized umbrella. Like the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared."