Harvick's aggressiveness pays off, Junior's rising; more from Daytona
Five things we learned during a long, rainy night of racing at Daytona:
Though he's been leading the points for nearly the entire season, Harvick was growing increasingly nervous.
And so he was on Saturday night. Piloting one of the dominant cars in the field, Harvick stayed in the lead pack for most of the 400 miles and then pulled away from his RCR teammate
Can Harvick win another race or two before the Chase starts on Sept. 19 in Loudon, N.H.? It seems likely, especially the team's his win-or-wreck approach.
After that debacle, the powers at the Speedway announced an ambitious, $20 million project to repave the track that will start on Tuesday. About 100 workers will pour more than 50,000 tons of concrete onto the track, which will smooth it out and give the cars better grip. Some drivers such as
On Saturday night in the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400, fittingly, the bumpy old surface -- the bumpiest in NASCAR, for the record -- produced another race full of chaos. There were a record 18 leaders, 47 lead changes, and a massive 20-car pileup. For racing junkies, this was arresting theatre, even if it didn't end until the small hours of Sunday morning. Definitely a good way for the old surface to go out.
"Dale is the kind of driver that, when things aren't going well, you need to put your arm around him, not slap him. That's what we did, and now he's as confident as any driver out there."
Earnhardt authored another strong race on Saturday night. A day after winning the Nationwide event at Daytona -- his first victory in the Triple-A of NASCAR since 2006 -- Earnhardt finished fourth in the Coke Zero 400. He's now had four straight top 11 finishes, which translates into his best stretch of racing in over two years, and over the last six races he's climbed from 16th to 11th in the standings.
To find out more about Earnhardt's renaissance, check out my story in the magazine this week.
I'll always remember Labonte for an answer to a question of mine back in 2000. Late that fall
Needless to say, the interview soon ended. But that line remains high on my alltime quote list.
One change that seems to be gaining support in the garage would be to make the Chase an elimination-style format. Under one scenario, 15 drivers would make the 10-race playoff. After two races, the field would be trimmed to 10. After three more races, the field would be cut to five. After two more, the field would shrink to three drivers, who would then battle for the championship over the last three races. I personally like this idea, because it would create more tension -- and hence more drama -- throughout the Chase.
One other idea that's being thrown around is to include a road-course event in the 10-race playoff. If these are truly the best drivers in the world, which is what NASCAR continually pronounces, then the ability to turn right and left should be included when determining a champion. Will this happen? I still doubt it, but it would be nice to see Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on the Chase schedule. Put simply, it doesn't make sense to have two road races in the regular season and none in the Chase.