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Up in flames

Daytona leaves NASCAR with a lot to live up to, says Alex

Alex Ferguson Posted 28th February 2012 view comments

If this NASCAR is crazier than this year's Daytona 500, we're in for quite a ride.

Juan Pablo Montoya managed to steal all the headlines after he crashed into a jet dryer containing 200 gallons of jet fuel (no, no-one had ever seen anything of the sort in their life) with 60 laps to go, sending up a plume of fire and smoke so large that you would have thought that Armageddon had arrived early, and helping to wreck the track.

There was drama in this year's Daytona 500 with several crashes

There was drama in this year's Daytona 500 with several crashes

"About the time you think you've seen about everything, you see something like this," NASCAR president Mike Helton said.

"I've hit a lot of things," Montoya said, reflecting on the crash which delayed the race by two long hours, "but a jet dryer? No."

Killing time

During the delay, No.2 driver Brad Keselowski spent his valuable time tweeting from his car before his phone was commandeered by Dale Earnhardt Jr to check the weather - something that thankfully wasn't a factor on Monday night. Oh, and Kyle Busch skipped out of his car to, ahem, take a break before the rest of his drivers. When it rains it pours, I suppose.

After the track was wrecked - and it looked like Dave Blaney would take home his first-ever NASCAR race win - NASCAR managed to come up with a plan that included asphalt and, er, detergent.

Alex Ferguson
Quotes of the week

And after the track was wrecked - and it looked like Dave Blaney would take home his first-ever NASCAR race win - NASCAR managed to come up with a plan that included asphalt and, er, detergent. It did the job, and the race managed to continue for this event, which was being run for the first time on a Monday night after the weather rained off Sunday's proceedings.

At the start of the race, the most talked-about driver in the field, Danica Patrick, was part of a monster wreck that also took out five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. While - to her credit - Patrick returned to the race and battled it out for 37th place; Johnson couldn't.

"I'm just really, really bummed to start the season this way," Johnson said. "For all the hard work that has gone into getting ready for tonight; we didn't get to complete two-and-a-half miles of green-flag racing. So, I'm pretty bummed."

The upshot

It completed a rather unhappy week for Johnson - whose crew chief Chad Knaus will face NASCAR officials after the 48 car failed a pre-race inspection on February 17th (If Knaus is suspended, it'll be his third such suspension; rule-bending is quietly accepted amongst teams but not by NASCAR).

NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart and Kyle didn't have their best days either, getting wrecked with four laps to go and collecting 16th and 17th place respectively.

For the record, affable Wisconsonite Matt Kenseth took the chequered flag, beating fan favourite Dale Earnhardt Jr and Roush Racing colleague Greg Biffle to the line for his second Great American Race win. His win - after a season where he'd lost key sponsor Crown Royal and had to set up two rather more uncertain sponsorship deals in his place - was celebrated in the usual happy fashion, but let's be honest, NASCAR will be hoping for something equally as fun but a little more predictable at Phoenix next Sunday.

AND for better weather.

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