Rain, Wrecks and Junior Takes The Checkered At Daytona

Rain, rain go away.  After nearly a six and a half hour rain delay, the drivers got back in their cars and raced hard for that Daytona 500 checkered flag.  For many of the fans in the stands, the wait was well worth it.  Dale Earnhardt Jr., with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon protecting him from behind, fought off Denny Hamlin and took the checkered flag to the delight of the brave NASCAR fans who weathered the rain and stormy weather.

Denny Hamlin was followed by Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in a crash-marred race.

Rain, Wrecks and Junior Takes The Checkered At Daytona

NASCAR’s most popular driver won his second Daytona 500.  It was just his first victory in 55 races and may have been the series’ most popular outcome since Earnhardt Jr., last won the Daytona 500 in 2004.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., won on the night that the #3 car which was formerly driven by his father, Dale Earnhardt, returned to a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.  Earnhardt was killed at Daytona on the last lap of the 2001 race.  The driver of the #3 car, Austin Dillon, finished the race in ninth place.

Earnhardt Jr., was elated after he took the checkered flag.  “Winning this race is the greatest feeling in this sport besides winning the championship.  I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to feel it again and it feels just as good.”

After the celebration Junior decided to join the ranks of twitter as he posted, “Tonight seemed like as good a night as any to join Twitter.  How is everybody doin?  #2xDaytona500Champ”

You can follow Dale Earnhardt Jr on twitter now @daleJr

NASCAR may be the only sport where the fans in attendance would prefer to sit in the rain for hours and hours as daytime turns into nighttime to hopefully get the race in.  Major League Baseball for instance, has been highly criticized at times for its careless treatment of its paying customers.  Making baseball fans sit in the rain for two hours before calling the game has been called greedy and inhumane by some.

This is completely different in NASCAR.  The fact NASCAR’s patience in waiting out the storm has more to do with their circuit schedules than it does for the fans benefit, but it benefits the paying customer just the same.

Many NASCAR fans plan their vacations months in advance to attend a NASCAR race, none bigger than the Great American Race. Hotels are booked, airline tickets are purchased, and seats to the race bought. A good many of these fans need to be on their way home on Monday, so if the race were to be rescheduled, they’d be out of luck  or should I say, out of a large amount of cash.

During these rain delays some fans will return to their cars and resume the tailgate activities which include an adult beverage or two.  Some will just sit in the stands in the miserable weather watching the track dryers for endless hours in hopes of the race resuming. They are a hardy bunch, these NASCAR fans.

Would the fans much prefer a nice Chamber of Commerce day and sit in a nice warm sun all afternoon and be entertained by the greatest drivers in the world? You betcha!  But I’m guessing that you couldn’t find too many fans who, given the choice, wouldn’t have opted for a six and a half hour rain delay – especially given who won the race.

 

On to Phoenix we go.  My picks:

1.       Jimmie Johnson
2        Jeff Gordon
3.       Denny Hamlin

 

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Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton