Daytona 500 Review
The Daytona 500 is the 1st official NASCAR race of the season and is the biggest NASCAR race of the season. This race was the 1st race that the brand new Gen-7 cars ran and this is the same car that will be run for the next few years to come. This race kicks off a brand new era for NASCAR which is hopefully going to be exciting and fresh compared to the Gen-6 era that was not received well by fans.
So, what happened in the race? If I told you going into the race that a rookie in the Cup Series would’ve won the race, people would've probably said that sounds amazing. In the end, this Daytona 500 was somewhat lackluster as Austin Cindric was impressive when he wheeled that #2 car to victory. This race was only really exciting because in the end, it was just carnage. In the final stage, there were multiple pileups including multiple crashes with 5+ cars which probably satisfied fans who just want wrecks and carnage, but to most racing fans, it got very boring. Usually at Daytona, we see tons of 3 wide racing and tons of lead changes. We didn’t see that as it looked like most of the drivers were being super timid when it comes to making big bold, aggressive moves. There was an insane lack of aggressiveness and I think it was due to the drivers not being sure how the new cars would react to making big aggressive moves. I think the next few superspeedway races will get better and better as the drivers learn more about the cars.
Speaking of the cars though, they did not get off to a great start like many of us were hoping for. It wasn’t just the quality of racing that was mediocre, but they also made some weird changes to this car. They made this car only have one lugnut per wheel instead of the typical 5. We saw multiple wheels come off of cars because the lugnut wasn’t tight enough. That is extremely dangerous and yes it’s supposed to make pit stops faster, but I think most fans would agree that the one lugnut did nothing but make the design of the new car just more awkward looking. As far as everything else goes, mechanically these cars were not much different. They have 5 gears but that was not a factor at the Daytona 500. That will probably only come into play during road courses and short tracks.
There was some good to these cars however. These cars were very competitive, meaning all the cars had a shot at winning the race which was great. Even the lap times throughout practice and qualifying were super competitive which was awesome to watch. Plus, we saw smaller teams who are not usually competitive do really well. That was super fun to see and hopefully that continues.
Now that we have discussed how the cars are and my overall thoughts on Daytona, we will break down the top finishers in the race.
These drivers were the top 10 in the race and everyone behind these guys was most likely involved in some incident considering all the drivers were wrecking towards the end of the race. There were some surprises in the top 10! Austin Cindric winning his 1st Daytona 500 was a major surprise, but he is a talented rookie and nobody would be surprised if he wins 2 or 3 races this season. We’ve seen guys like Busch, Blaney, Almirola, Keselowski, and Elliott run at the front of these races for a long time, so no surprises there. Wallace is a bit of a surprise. That team took a really big step up and showed a lot of really good speed. Chase Briscoe also had a fantastic race earning his best career finish in his 2nd year. Michael McDowell had a decent race. He won the 2021 Daytona 500 out of pure luck, but he did put himself in a good position to win again, but unfortunately he could not get the win. David Ragan was a huge surprise as well considering he was not in a competitive car whatsoever. In fact, he crossed the start finish line while crashing so the fact that he got 8th is insane.
Overall, this Daytona 500 was lackluster as far as Daytona 500 races go, however there are some positives. The good finish, and the surprises in the top 10 were nice to see. Unfortunately, there were just lots of not so good things about the race, but I do think some of that was just the drivers learning how these new cars would react to certain situations. We will continue to learn more about this car and hopefully this race is just an off start to a great future.