Five things we learned at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- David Ragan figured he'd get around to mowing his grass and maybe find some place for a nice dinner this weekend. Now he has something to celebrate. And the mower might sit a while longer.
After spending weeks ruing a late-race mistake that likely cost him his first career win in the season-opening Daytona 500 and cast Trevor Bayne as NASCAR's new sensation, the understated 25-year-old from Unadilla, Ga., rode the fickle nature of restrictor plate racing and a push from teammate Matt Kenseth to win the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
"That does ease the pain from February," he said.
The win might have broader reverberations for both Ragan and Roush Fenway Racing, as the driver finally delivered in his third season for powerful sponsor UPS, whose deal with the race team expires at the end of the season. Or Ragan may simply have gone from a driver who doesn't win to one who has won just once in 163 tries. UPS issued a statement immediately after the race in which vice president of sponsorships and events Ron Rogowski stated, "David has a great future ahead of him and we look forward to many more trips to victory lane with him."
But those were thoughts and issues for another night.
Five things we learned at Daytona:
Edwards finished 37th, but fell to just second in points, five points behind new leader Kevin Harvick.
"I can't explain what I've been through this year," he said. "It's tough at times and it's good at times, but I just know that I've got really good people behind."
Bayne was running mid-pack into Turn 2 on Lap 5 when he was nudged into the wall by drafting partner Brad Keselowski. Television replays showed the No. 2 Dodge was lower in the banking than most of the pushing cars in the two-car draft, and hooked the No. 21 Ford into the wall. Bayne's car suffered irreparable damage and was scored 41st in his tenth race of the season.
"I don't know if I turned down going in or he turned up," Bayne said. "Either way, I got hooked."
Though Bayne gained notoriety, he didn't necessarily gain a bevy of willing draft partners and even though his Wood Brothers is essentially a satellite organization of Roush Fenway, those four drivers had already opted to work with each other. That left Bayne groping for help, and he lined up with Penske Racing's Keselowski after working briefly with Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton.
"We found the 2 car. I wanted to be a pusher because I know that these things can happen," Bayne said. "He got to us and was pushing us down the front stretch. I was still kind of lifting a little bit, letting him get to my bumper, and then I got back to the gas wide-open. I don't know if I turned down more getting in or if he kind of came up across our bumper, but, either way, our bumpers caught wrong and it sent us spinning."
Roughly coinciding with the emergence of those rumors, Logano won the pole and finished sixth last week at Sonoma, Calif., then finished third on Saturday at Daytona, a night after winning the Nationwide event.
"I need something to turn around here," Logano said. "Recently it seems like everything's been going the wrong way. Ever since we got that pole last week and won the West race and had a good run there in Sonoma, coming here and getting a first and a third."
Logano improved to 20th in points on Saturday.
Earnhardt Jr., who dislikes this new form of plate racing, was displeased.
"I'm driving my car, doing what I am told and they decided to do something different," Earnhardt Jr. said. I can't run the whole damn thing from the seat of the damn race car. I don't know how that affected us, if it did at all. It probably didn't. It was a foolish race."