The Daytona 520
Topics: Daytona 500
***Jerm's note: My first article, Feburrrrary in Daytona was picked up by the Daytona Journal!!!!
Kerry Earnhardt had always had my admiration has being, well, the dark horse, of the Earnhardt clan. I was excited for him when he had his ARCA stint, which included some victories, and even rooted for him in his limited Nationwide and cup tenure. I heard a fan today say of him that at least he had a "soul" for racing, unlike his brother. My jury of peers is still out on that one, but I could respect the comment. That was, until I met him today at an autograph signing. Oh sure, I admit, I was thinking he will be the closest to Dale Jr. I ever get, (other than the photo of the back of his head at the Chevy display today), but it didn't change the fact that he is an Earnhardt.
Anyone that has seen my bar knows I have everything from bears, to ticket stubs, to hats, to 1:24 scale cars signed by a multitude of different drivers. I try to mix it up. Today, Kerry was going to sign my ticket stub from this year's 500, or so I thought. Now, call it a slap in the face, but there weren't a lot of people flocking to the Dale Sr. toy truck to seek out his autograph in the first place. The ladies in front of me had items for him to sign, which he did, so I thought my entry pass to the Great American Race would be an easy one for him. Nope! Being only the fifth person in line, he said that he was only going to be issuing signed hero cards. It wasn't so much what he said, it was how he said it: arrogantly self-centered. Then, to burn the hole in my back side wider, he then signed a coat for the woman behind me. Ouch!
However, the Daytona 520 (the actual miles run after the multiple green/white/ checkered attempts) did not disappoint.. .well, except for the fact the speedway could have solicited some assistance from FDOT on how to fix a pot hole....WAIT, a pot hole in Florida? Throw in the temperature, minus the snow, maybe Florida and Ohio aren't that much different after all! I conceed that that red flagathons were tiring on the rump in those cold metal seats today, but the quality of racing seemed reborn. Racers back to being racers: testosterone, muscle, grit, throttle, and sheet metal. It left me rubbing my eyes and asking myself, "Did this just happen?" Indeed it did, and throw in a little bias of Jr. finishing second when it appeared he was going to have a "not so good" day, and to me, THAT was racing as I remember it when I first became a fan. Dale Jr. stated it best in the post race press conference, "I didn't feel like someone was lookin' over my shoulder", referring to NASCAR's former secret SS of sorts.
Granted, I have never seen pavement come up during a race, and as the sun set, the colder it became, and the shivers vibrated me into a near seizure-like state, todays race was great for the drivers and fans. My only hope is that it is not too much too late on NASCAR's part. Only good things can come from this and I can safely say I will remain cautiously optimistic going into Fontana. It made the run to the tram from the Super Stretch a lot more pallitable this year, for sure.
I do not need to recount the race, because if you are reading this, you saw it in some fashion. Just a quick jaunt at the keyboard before I snuggle in for the night as I only have two days of vacation left to actually relax. So, from St. Augustine/Daytona Beach Florida, I bid you all a good night, and a wonderful 2010 season of racing!
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