NASCAR Daytona 500: Predictions vs. Results

 
NASCAR Daytona 500: Predictions vs. Results

by Amy Lignor

 

There were a lot of questions coming into this NASCAR season that both viewers and drivers were talking about. Some of those questions received an answer during this Daytona 500. And some predictions that were made actually did come true.

Daytona 500, predictions, Jimmie Johnson, Monster Energy, Kyle Larson, Richard Childress

 

Many were wondering what impact Monster Energy, the new sponsor of the Cup series, would have on NASCAR. It has been twelve consistent years that the sport relied on sponsorship by the telecommunication companies out there before switching to this particular energy drink that has taken over the U.S. of A. The sport was looking at attendance, as well as TV ratings that were declining fast, so bringing in a “Monster” made absolute sense when it came to revving up the sport and marketing to that younger demographic out there. Has it changed the sport so far? Well…although ratings were up for yesterday’s Daytona 500, it looks like Monster Energy has work ahead in order to bring the younger viewers to TV sets across the country. Too bad Tom Brady and the Patriots aren’t the sponsor. Football is still the sport that has no problem nabbing those high ratings.

 

NASCAR is also looking at the topic of less downforce meaning better racing. This new aerodynamic package for the cars features lower downforce. Introduced in 2016, NASCAR went even further this season by reducing the downforce even more. Lower downforce means that more issues regarding performance is left in the hands of drivers instead of in the machine, itself. This is exactly what the drivers wanted and it looks as if it will bring them even more success in 2017.

 

Jimmie Johnson is another topic of discussion for the NASCAR season. After all, his 2016 championship brought him into a tie with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, setting him atop the all-time list with seven. Even at the age of 41, Johnson shows no signs of letting up, which means it will only take one more title win for him to sit atop the list all by himself. If this occurs, fans and the media will have to “see” Johnson as the best driver ever. Will that happen? Not a chance. Yes, he could win that one title; however, the names Petty and Earnhardt have followings that will never concede Johnson is better than either one of them.

 

Who will be the ‘name’ that comes out from behind the proverbial ‘curtain’ this season? Most state that Kyle Larson will be the one. This Chevy driver won his first race in 2016 and most experts are saying to look for Larson to win multiple times this season. Although for a time it looked like he would win the Daytona 500 yesterday, Larson, unfortunately, was “passed by.” But the season is just gearing up.

 

So…what about the rookies? Is there one that will surprise everybody out there? Experts right now are calling for Ty Dillon’s name to be in the headlines a great deal this season. Of course, with his brother being Cup driver Austin Dillon, and being the grandson of Richard Childress Racing owner Richard Childress, his bloodlines run long and deep.

 

As far as predictions for Daytona, some came true. There was a small bit of confusion when it came to the new rules that NASCAR instituted for 2017, such as cars coming in after 60 laps (the first stage of three stages). And cars not being able to come back on the track from the garage if they went in because of damage done from contact or a wreck.

 

It was also stated beforehand that there was no chance 2016 Daytona champion, Denny Hamlin, would win – only because it is very rare for a driver to go back-to-back. Only three have ever achieved it, including the great Richard Petty. And when it came right down to it, the prediction came true. Hamlin didn’t walk away with back-to-back Daytona wins. This time out it was Kurt Busch who took the win. Only leading in one lap throughout the entire race, Busch proved that all you need is one. After all, it was the final lap where he made the pass on Larson to take it all.

 

In the end, though, whether it was rule changes, a new sponsor, or drivers’ dealing with the improved downforce reduction, the one thing all predicted came absolutely true when the biggest cheer of the day was raised for Dale Earnhardt Jr. during driver introductions. Earnhardt was like the Knight of the Realm as he came back to do what he loves to do after missing 18 races last season with a concussion. People thought he would look nervous – what he did look like, however, was a man who had most definitely come home.

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