COLUMN: Rain hits Daytona

Mark Spensley

     On Sunday I was all settled in to watch the Daytona 500. I’ve not been too interested in NASCAR the past few years. It became hard to keep up with all of the point changes, drivers leaving and sponsors evolving from season to season.

     It seems like when I was most interested in NASCAR, quite a few seasons ago, the cars and drivers remained the same except for an occasional change. Numbers 24, 3, 8, 6, 48 and 20 belonged to the same guys and DuPont, Goodwrench, Budweiser, Valvoline, Lowes and Home Depot were proudly splashed on those drivers’ cars.

     Now guys are no longer racing into their fifties or sixties. After seeing the starting line-up for the Great American Race, I had no idea that drivers like Jeff Burton, Robby Gordon, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards retired.

     Now I’m hearing this is Jimmie Johnson’s swan song season.

     As I was watching some of the prerace on Sunday, I took some time looking over the starting grid. Of the 40 guys racing, only 14 names were still around when I was into racing.

     Over the years I had my favorite, Jeff Gordon. I was also a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fan. Of course, there have been plenty of guys I never cared for. Dale Sr. would be one of those guys. Tony Stewart another. I’ve never been a fan of Joey Logano or Kyle Busch.

     I have no idea who these guys are in the 24 car or the 8 car. With all the new young drivers, it got me thinking about why so many guys in their prime have gotten out of racing. Have they made so much money they no longer need to drive? Have some of them gotten out from behind the wheel early because of what happened to Dale Earnhardt, Sr.?

     I guess I would maybe know those answers if I had not stepped away from NASCAR racing.

     Now that the rain postponed the race to today, (Monday, as I write this column), it looks like I need to pick a new guy to cheer for. Do I go with one of those 14 guys I recognize? Do I continue to cheer for #24? Maybe I should pick my guy based on car color or sponsorship?

     There is quite a bit of criteria there for me to decipher through. I do kind of like Hooters, Oscar Meyer and McDonald’s. Skittles and M&M’s are two of my favorite candies. I like to shop at Bass Pro Shops.

     Even looking over sponsors is confusing. Select Blinds? Dockside logistics? Global Poker? Not the kind of places that NASCAR’s true fans probably frequent.

     So, I narrowed it down to four guys, 24 (William Bryon/AXALTA), 4 (Kevin Harvick/Jimmy John’s), 6 (Chase Elliott/Hooters) and 19 (Martin Truex Jr./Bass Pro Shops). After narrowing it down to two guys, numbers 6 and 19, the edge goes to Chase Elliott and his #6 Hooters Chevrolet.

     See ya at the races!



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