When the green flag waved to start the Drive4COPD 300, many expected it to be crazy since it is Daytona, but few predicted a first-time winner and carnage that took out all the heavy hitters. With every race recap, I will profile the winner, the pole sitter, and another notable story, so here we go:
In a cloud of smoke, James Buescher dove below the yellow line to avoid a last lap crash that brought out the caution. This made the driver of the #30 for Turner Motorsports a first time winner this afternoon. Before the wreck, Buescher was running eleventh, yet fate had another finishing position in mind for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series full-timer. This may have been the highlight of the season opener, preparing us for a NASCAR Nationwide Series full of surprises and excitement. Congrats to James, and I hope he has continued success in his racing career.
At the beginning of the race, all eyes were on Danica Patrick, the first woman to sit on the pole since Shawna Robinson in 1994 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It is no secret that she had brought much attention to NASCAR as a whole, and many people were probably watching today’s race as racing newbies. It has an effect on the sport. Unfortunately, all that hype didn’t soften the hit to the wall she took on lap 49. Teammate Cole Whitt was attempting to draft with her but loosened her up instead. As a result, Patrick hit the wall, and she blew up on the radio. It wasn’t the performance she wanted to deliver, that’s for sure. We’ll see how she does at Phoenix next week, and then we can predict where she’ll end up at the end of the season.
Another big story was Austin Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress and the 2011 NCWTS champion, stepping up into the sport’s second-tier series. He had the historical #3 on the side of his Richard Childress Racing car today, and it helped him escape some of the day’s wrecks. He survived the mess that happened at the end, claiming fifth. Dillon, along with his younger brother Ty, grew up watching Dale Earnhardt Sr. make his mark in the history books with an intimidating driving style and unmistakable swagger. There is no doubt that Austin learned from one of the best, and he used the pointers to his advantage last year. It was obvious today that he knows what he’s doing, and he will continue to impress.
The beginning of the NASCAR season is two-thirds of the way over, and the last leg is The Great American Race. The Nationwide segment of the weekend showed us that tomorrow’s outcome is basically impossible to predict, but it was one heck of a way to start a season.