– I agree with Jeff Gluck (late of Scene Daily, now at SBNation.com) that something needs to be done with rained-out qualifying. There were inarguably a few good cars that missed out on the race because they were unfortunate enough to be way down on the qualifying draw.
At the very least, NASCAR could have the go-or-go-homers qualify and start behind the “guaranteed” drivers. It would be better if NASCAR would be open to moving qualifying from its scheduled time to get it in.
– Related to that, Jack Roush (likely with some cash from Paul Menard’s dad John) bought Menard’s way into the race after the new-for-2010 #98 team drew the 49th position in the qualifying order and initially got frozen out after the rainout. While higher-profile drivers buying a “field-filler’s” starting spot is nothing new in NASCAR, usually it involves the owner of the bought-out team getting the owners’ points earned by the replacement driver.
What makes the Menard/Roush purchase so unusual is that they paid 5 teams (the drawn-into-the-show-and-scheduled-to-be-start-and-parked #97 NEMCO Chevy of Jeff Fuller, plus the 4 teams between them and the 43rd spot) to withdraw from the event. The significance of that is that the #98 not only gets the 150 owners’ points instead of the 16 they would have picked up in the “normal” deal, the teams that pulled out, which includes a couple of teams that hoped to run the full schedule, don’t get either the points or the attempt credit. Of course, since only the start-and-park NEMCO team would have otherwise picked up cash, and Menard was easily strong enough to have made the field had there been qualifying, maybe it’s time for a poll.
– Speaking of Menard, he took out the first of two females in the race, Chrissy Wallace, just as the cars got all the way up to speed.
– The other female in the race, Danica Patrick, took a car from an organization (JR Motorsports) that is capable of putting a front-running car out there and ran mid-pack until she drove right into the first Big One. In short, just another rookie performance.
– Speaking of JR Motorsports, her car owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was the biggest victim of the second Big One, taking a ride on the roof after he got turned on the backstretch.
– In the end, another spring Daytona race, another Tony Stewart win. Except for the snake-bit heartaches in the Daytona 500 and 5 fewer Cup trophies, it’s fair to say that Smoke is this generation’s Dale Earnhardt St.