Daytona 500 didn’t help NASCAR’s cause

February 14, 2010 | Drew Forrester

The Daytona 500 has ended.

I think.

I figured I’d put some fuel in the blog tank and start the engine first on this one.  By this time tomorrow, most of the mainstream media will be on all-out assault on NASCAR and Sunday’s race in Daytona.  That is, if they’ve managed to wake up after watching the race.

OK, let me first defend the NASCAR world and, in particular, the race itself.

Most of the “racing world” found Sunday’s event to be exciting.  The final 40 seconds or so were captivating, to say the least.  Some guy almost came from behind to beat some other guy at the end.  It was riveting, particularly if you have in-depth knowledge of what’s going on out there.

And that IS a factor with regard to NASCAR.  Much like getting in car and driving around the Beltway at 77mph…it’s one thing to know how you drive your car fast and it’s another to be in a race where you might not come out alive.  Golf and tennis have the same sort of “hard to comprehend” expertise factor.  It’s one thing to play 9 holes after work or play 3 sets with your co-worker on Saturday morning.  It’s another thing to play golf at a high level and know why you don’t lay up to the left of the par-5 14th hole at Pebble Beach like Paul Goydos did on Sunday afternoon en route to a done-for-the-day quadruple bogey-9.

People who really follow NASCAR with great inspection probably WERE excited about what they watched on Sunday.  There were plenty of wrecks, bumps, drafting issues and all other buzz-words associated with racing that make it a thrill-a-minute for those who really know what they’re watching.

There’s only one problem.  Make that, a bunch of problems.

They had to stop the race twice because of potholes in the track.  That would be like stopping the World Series at Yankee Stadium because the lights are too bright.  Or the infield dirt is too dirty.

And it took forever to finish the last 50 laps.  Who was in charge of dragging that thing out all afternoon, the NFL?  13 more minutes and the folks in Australia could have watched it over breakfast.

There were more wrecks in the final half-hour than commercials on the TV broadcast.  Come on guys…you see that car in front of you?  It’s NOT going anywhere, even if you bump into it.

And then they had something called “overtime” where the race didn’t really end because people kept smashing their cars into the walls.   Either make the race shorter or get better drivers.  Maybe both.

Most of the nation watching it bowed out early, I’m sure.

Legitimate NASCAR fans loved it.

Casual observers turned over to The Chess Channel for a re-run of the 1998 World Final.

There’s going to be a lot of discussion about the race on Monday and throughout the week.

The racin’ fans will tell the non-racin’ fans to just shut up…”because you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Folks like me – and I’d say I’ve been a NASCAR “supporter” over the years because I respect (greatly) what the drivers go through – who gave it a fair chance to engage us on Sunday were likely left shaking our head after “Pothole, The Sequel”.  And if stopping the race to fix the track didn’t finish us off, then not being able to finish the race without yet ANOTHER accident surely did the trick.

While watching the pace car lead the competitors around the track for what seemed like the 10th time, I wondered what the PGA TOUR equivalent would be.  I figured it out.  If Tiger, Vijay and Phil are tied at -10 going into the back nine on Sunday at The Masters, and they each make five bogeys on the back nine to finish at -5…allowing Kevin Streelman to win at -6…that’s about what Sunday’s Daytona 500 resembled to me.

One of the TV announcers said on the post-race show:  “If you didn’t think this race was exciting, you won’t find any race the rest of the season to be exciting.”

Well, there’s bad news then.

That thing on Sunday at Daytona wasn’t exciting.

It was more fun than shoveling 26″ of snow, but not by much.

Gentleman…start your engines.

And let the debate begin.

(Be careful of the potholes)