By Brandon Busuttil
February 24, 2015
The Daytona 500 is regarded as one of the greatest annual sport spectacles, and is even referred to as “The Great American Race”. It is a 500 mile race consisting of 200 laps around the Daytona Speedway track. Since 1959 (when the Daytona Speedway first opened) the Daytona 500 has always been the first race of the NASCAR season, and although it is the first race of the season, it holds implications as though it is one of the ending races of the Sprint Cup Series. On top of that, it also holds the largest purse out of all the races. The race took place on Sunday, February 22.
This year’s race was not just about trying to become one of the largest live global television events (the 2006 Daytona 500 is ranked 6th with 20 million viewers), or about the purse of about $20 million, but all the storylines that were a part of the race this year.
The first begin with the infamous Jeff Gordon, racing for what was, his final time in the Daytona 500. One of the most decorated NASCAR drivers, decided in mid January to announce that this will be his final NASCAR season. Gordon, who is 43, will be racing in his final season, so you can expect for him to give it all in every race this season, including the Daytona 500, where 16 years ago he won this race. He has won 92 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and the Daytona 500 marked the beginning of the end for him. Unfortunately for him after looking like he was in complete control of the race having led 87 laps in the Daytona 500, after getting kicked back in the pact after a restart and being part of a multi-car crash in the last lap of the race, he ended up finishing 33rd. The good thing is, he was all smiles having finished his last Daytona 500.
Since first racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the year 2000, Kurt Busch has always known to have some anger issues. Well he may have really outdone himself this time. On February 20th, 2 days before the big race, he was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR because of an act of domestic violence toward his girlfriend, whom had a fight and he took her head and slammed it against the side of his motor home. In his place, an underdog, a man named Regan Smith, who in his 8 years of racing in the Sprint Cup Series, has only won 1 of his 172 races. He ended up finishing 16th in the Daytona 500 and was hopeful that he will have much better race weekends.
After a horrific crash into an unprotected barrier Kyle Busch was also not partaking in the race this year. On Saturday, in the Xfinity Series race, Kyle went into the barrier, breaking his leg. Leaving out the Busch brothers who have always brought such excitement to The Great American Race throughout the years. Matt Crafton was Kyle Busch’s substitute in the Daytona 500 and had a top-20 finish (finished 18th).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 last year, and that was only the start for the season to him, as Earnhardt Jr. had won of his greatest seasons of his career last year. Analysis looking at this race, believe he could be, only the fourth person in history to win the Daytona 500 two years in a row. However, he was not the going to make history on February 22nd and with a good push finished 3rd in the race, a finish that he, himself, was very disappointed in.
Taking home the checkered flag was Joey Logano, whom got off to a great start after the last restart. Judging from the Daytona 500, look for an interesting season in NASCAR this year.