Opinion: Here's What "Really" Happened At The Great American Race
In any business, you are always told that there are 2 sides to every story. Your customer's side of what happened, and the truth about what really happened. The same could be said for all of the wrecks at Daytona. There are 2 sides to each wreck, caution flag and spin-out. What you saw, and what really happened.
Let's break down each of the cautions that took place during the race. The first sentence will outline what we saw, and the second sentence will tell you what really happened - who's fault it really was, or wasn't
Caution 1: SAW: Corey LaJoie misses pit road entrance and hits the trioval wall, nearly clipping Clint Bowyer. HAPPENED: A rookie mistake that wouldn't be the first of the race. He locked his brakes when he misjudged pit road in speed.
Caution 2: End of Segment 1, Kyle Busch wins segment 1
Caution 3: SAW: Kyle Busch spins out, apparently on his own, reporting a left rear down. He takes out teammates Erik Jones and Matt Kenseth. Also collected in the wreck are a strong Ty Dillon and returning racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. HAPPENED: Kyle Busch was clueless as to how he cut the right rear, blaming everything from the faulty Goodyear low-air tires to debris on the track from the last caution that wasn't properly cleaned up. He knows he heard a thump, thump noise, just wasn't sure if it was the left rear or the right rear. There was also a 17 minute red flag for cleanup.
Caution 5: SAW: The first big wreck of the day. Jimmie Johnson spins out after being clipped in the rear bumper. Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer are also collected. That's a 1-2-3 punch for Stewart Haas. Kurt Busch narrowly avoided the wreck. HAPPENED: Rookie Trevor Bayne (still a rookie in my eyes) tried to shoot the middle making it 3 wide without being cleared first. He clipped the rear bumper of Johnson, who was not too happy with the youngster, saying that he was being too aggressive at that stage of the race.
Caution 6: SAW: A three car wreck involving Elliott Sadler, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Ryan Blaney, collecting Roush Fenway teammates Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Trevor Bayne. HAPPENED: Sadler and Blaney both signalled they would be pitting (usually with a hand out the window), but Earnhardt ran into the back of Sadler when he slowed to pit. That's like the short stop and the center fielder both calling for a fly ball at the same time.
Caution 7: SAW: Three big wrecks in a row, leveling the field to just 5 undamaged cars. This time collects Daniel Suarez and Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray. HAPPENED: Jamie McMurray gets too aggressive pushing a Hendrick car inside the top 5. Elliott and Denny Hamlin escape with minor damage.
Caution 8: SAW: Joey Gase and Brendan Gaughan involved in another wreck. Gase drifted up into Chase Elliott, and Gaughan lost control trying to avoid the wreck. HAPPENED: Light contact between Elliott and Gase continue to further prove that you just can't be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
HAPPENED: At the end of the race, several drivers ran out of gas coming to the white flag including Chase Elliott (3 to go), Kyle Larson (1/2 lap to go), and others who pushed as hard as they could to get to the front.
What we saw was new stage formats being tested for the first time and being failed miserably when people got too aggressive to early. What happened is a learning lesson for the rookies, a life lesson for the veterans, and the cobwebs of a long winter break being dusted off with a 360 degree metal feather duster.