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Bizarre is the only way to describe the 2012 version of the Daytona 500

By admin | February 28, 2012

By Richard Allen

I asked the following Twitter question on Tuesday morning- “How many times will the word bizarre be used to describe the Daytona 500?” Monte Dutton, one of the top writers in the business of covering NASCAR, replied, “Probably not enough.”

That’s a pretty accurate response. As I told my wife the next morning, I have been watching racing for close to 40 years and rarely have I witnesses so many strange, frightening, humorous and thrilling moments in one race. Here are a few of the things about this crazy event that will remain etched in my memory for a long time to come:

Some of the most talked about drivers coming into the season opener were eliminated from contention after only one lap. Just after the pack crossed the start/finish line to complete the first lap, Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick, Trevor Bayne and Kurt Busch were collected in a hard hitting accident triggered when an apparent stalling out of the top lane caused Elliott Sadler to tap the rear bumper of Johnson’s car and send him head on into the wall.

This proved to be one of the more frightening moments in the race as Johnson’s car took a direct hit on the driver’s side and left the five time Sprint Cup champion looking dazed for a moment. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured although he was relegated to a 42nd place finishing position, which might actually have him going into the next race in Phoenix with a points deficit should NASCAR levee a penalty for an infraction discovered during an inspection.

But more than Johnson, the much hyped debut of Patrick was essentially ended before it really began as her car suffered enough damage in the crash to force her team to the garage area for lengthy repairs.

Last year’s unlikely winner, Bayne, never really had the chance to defend his victory as he too found himself limping back to the garage area after the early crash.

And perhaps the driver who received as many or more headlines than any during this off season, Kurt Busch, also sat inside a mangled machine barely after taking the green flag. The often controversial driver’s debut for Phoenix Racing proved a major disappointment.

But easily the most talked about bizarre moment of the Daytona 500 came when Juan Pablo Montoya’s car swerved out of control as he sped under caution in an attempt to catch up to the rest of the field. The #42 turned sideways and slammed into a jet dryer that had been sent out by NASCAR to blow loose debris from the racing surface. The result was an inferno that completely destroyed the jet dryer and its truck and left a scar on the track itself. As a result, a red flag was displayed while the track was patched and repaired.

Along with that almost unbelievable mishap was the sight of drivers out of their cars on the back straightaway during the red flag and milling around with each other as if they were taking part in a neighborhood barbeque party.

As that impromptu get-together was going on, drivers spent time tweeting messages and pictures from cell phones they had stored inside their cars(particularly Brad Keselowski)and even racing each other to a nearby porta-potty.

And all of this came about on a Monday evening as for the first time in its 54 year history, the Daytona 500 was rained out of its originally scheduled date.

Yes, it was a bizarre night. If the season opening race was any indication of things to come, 2012 is going to be a year for the record books in NASCAR.

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6 Responses to “Bizarre is the only way to describe the 2012 version of the Daytona 500”

  1. Offkilter Says:
    February 28th, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    10 possible explinations for the 42 car/ jet blower incident.

    10. Juan hung out with Junior’s posse last weekend and they taught him the phrase ” hay ya’ll, watch this!”

    9. Practicing bump drafting.

    8. He finally found a vehicle he could pass and rubbin’ is racin’

    7. Gatorade was spiked.

    6. Tourettes

    5. It was past his bedtime… Asleep at the wheel.

    4. Attempted payback on the yellow 18 car but by the time he realized it was a yellow track crew truck it was too late.

    3. That track crew guy owed him money.

    2. “Highway to hell” came up on his ipod and he was feeling it

    1. One of his crewmen thought it would be funny if they used english instead of spanish for the note they attach to his dashboard that states” Juan, to turn left, tug on the big round thing in front of you counter-clockwise”

  2. Charles Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I agree it was a bizarre Daytona 500, lets not let it get in the way of a great race…we can debate all the incidents in the race!

    But it was a great race especialy in the end….Great to see a underated driver Matt Kennseth win in a race he really earned and good to see Jack Roush get his restrictor plate program in order!

    The weather at Daytona Nascar has lucked out for 54 years, and thats not Nascars fault….

    Still the pack racing leaves something to be desired…with over 70 cars wrecked in 6 races..I wondered where was the outrage and all the ’safety people who usually trump this” and complain…didnt seem to hear this mantra this time…that in it self was bizarre…

    But take away all the weather issues and at the end the racing was one of the better Daytona 500s..glad no one was hurt bad and got through it!

  3. Russ Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 8:08 am

    So was the race a positive, or a negative way to start the season? Or did it really matter?

  4. Richard Allen Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Russ, I don’t think we can truly know the answers to your questions for a while. My own opinion is that there won’t be scores of new fans added but possibly a few.

    In the end, it was just a bizarre race.

  5. Glen H. Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 11:27 am

    At least Danica’s perfect this season: Three races, three wrecks.

  6. loose nut Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I think Greg Biffle is a coward for not pulling out and trying to pass his teamate. You do not get many good shots at a win like he did and to just follow him like that was inexcusable for a driver to do!