White Hat Sports Headlines

Monday, January 21, 2008

Will There Be a "Big One?"

I don't think I'm the only NASCAR fan who's a bit concerned about the potential for a very boring running of the 50th Daytona 500, come February 17th. The upcoming season will be run with the new Car of Tomorrow - or whatever you want to call it, since the car is the only car being used now - and some of the typically exciting races haven't lived up to their billing.

We all saw the race at Bristol this past August, which was run with the new car. Bristol is supposed to be a race where the most beating and banging takes place. It's supposed to a race run under the lights in late summer, where cautions run rampant and cars are being hauled to the garage by tow trucks throughout the race. It's a race filled with excitement and close racing.

This didn't really pan out last season. 97% of the race was led by just two drivers, and only 20 drivers finished on the lead lap. Only five drivers weren't able to finish the race.

I use that example because normally at Daytona, the same sort of scenarios occur, when the cars are bunched up and running three-wide for a lot of the race. Wrecks are common and close finishes have become a staple for these superspeedway races.

I know we all saw the COT race at Talladega last season - another superspeedway race similar to that at Daytona - and it was a good race. However, there were many periods of long, green flag racing without cautions and only one major wreck of excitement. Granted, that "Big One" contained 11 cars in a pileup started by Bobby Labonte, and it had an excellent last lap win by Jeff Gordon, but besides that the race was relatively uneventful.

Personally, I'm fine with the COT and I believe as time goes on, drivers will grow accustomed to it and it will provide for fine racing. However, this is the 50th running of the Daytona 500; it's not just any race. Teams and their drivers have had a year to prepare for this race, and have known the COT would be used at this track since then.

Will this race provide for excitement? Are we going to see a classic Daytona 500? Will we see the "Big One?" With its very high center of gravity, will this new car be capable of a flip or barrel roll? I'm not so sure.

Aaron Larsen

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