JAMIE McMurray won last night’s Daytona 500 in thrilling fashion.
The race was eventful throughout, with its first accident happening on just lap 8. However the race will be remembered for two long stoppages due to the track breaking up in between turns 1 and 2. A large pothole is not what you want to hit when you and over 30 cars around you are doing 180mph+. The first repair took place on lap 122 and the cars were lined up in the pits for over an hour and 40 minutes. They were back in the pits for a further 45 minutes on lap 161. The last time Daytona was resurfaced was 1978. I think they are going to relay it in 2011. Personally, I think they should have done it already.
The last 39 laps were packed full of tactical battles, and crashes on laps 194 and 198. In the past, if the Safety Car was out on the last lap (200), the race would finish and everyone went home slightly disappointed. But now, NASCAR has introduced the “green-white-checker finish”.
Under this rule, if the last lap is not completed at racing speed, the Safety Car remains out until the track is safe, then the drivers are let loose for two laps to try and get a full speed finish. If a crash occurs on the first lap, the Safety Car is brought back out and the race distance is reset to two laps to go, then when safe, they go again. This can happen three times. If on the third restart a crash happens on the first laps, the race is called as it is. But if they get onto the second and last lap, they race to the finish regardless if there is a crash or not. It is like an Extra-Time period in Motorsport.
Last night this is what happened. The first GWC restart had a first lap crash, so everyone lined up again for another go. In the second GWC restart Jamie McMurray (No. 1) took the lead halfway around the first lap and held off a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88) to win the biggest race in NASCAR. There was a crash on the last corner, but the race was already over.
The race was over six hours long (finishing at gone midnight our time), ran for 20 more miles than it should have done, saw 50 lead changes including old F1 boys Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Speed taking turns up the front. But the end was so exciting it was worth all of the interruptions.