By admin | February 28, 2012
By Richard Allen
I asked the following Twitter question on Tuesday morning- â€œHow many times will the word bizarre be used to describe the Daytona 500?â€ Monte Dutton, one of the top writers in the business of covering NASCAR, replied, â€œProbably not enough.â€
Thatâ€™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 Johnsonâ€™s car and send him head on into the wall.
This proved to be one of the more frightening moments in the race as Johnsonâ€™s car took a direct hit on the driverâ€™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 yearâ€™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 driverâ€™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 Montoyaâ€™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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