Sunday, February 20, 2005

Daytona 500

My thoughts on the Daytona 500 can be expressed in three short words: Junior didn't win.

Despite this disappointment, I will say that the 47th running of the Great American race was an entertaining event. For the first time ever, it was broadcast in high definition, and thanks to my baby sister, I got to enjoy the event in all it's dazzling visual glory.

There was a fairly boring two-hour stretch in the race where Tony Stewart led a single-file line of cars. But by the time it was all said and done, fans got to see a car rolling and flipping and twirling on its nose, multiple late-lap lead changes, and a two-lap shoot-out to the finish.

Dale Jarrett started the race on the pole. Jarrett led the first lap, but he was never a factor after that. Tony Stewart, winner of yesterday's Busch race, led the most laps. Dale, Jr. struggled during the middle portion of the race, falling as far back as 31st. Then Junior put on a stunning charge and wrestled the lead away from Stewart with only 5 laps to go. But, Junior's lead was short-lived. Though he'd been unable to give Stewart a serious challenge, Jeff Gordon took the lead away from Junior after just one short lap. Then the yellow flag dropped with only 3 laps to go. NASCAR froze the lap count while the cars slowly circled under yellow. The green flag dropped for the final time with just 2 laps to go. Junior was actually in 3rd at the restart. Kurt Busch was in 2nd and effectively prevented Junior from giving Gordon a serious challenge.

In the end, Jeff Gordon won his third Daytona 500. Kurt Busch finished 2nd. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was 3rd. Scott Riggs was 4th, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 5. Despite dominating most of the race, Tony Stewart finsihed in 6th place.

Next week, it's on to Fontana, California.