Over the last few years, the Daytona 500 has seen everything from bad weather to fiery explosions. For NASCAR‘s version of the Super Bowl, the last few February races at the legendary track have gone nowhere near scripted. Scheduled for early Sunday afternoon and set to finish in the early evening, the season opener has either finished under the lights or on a Monday and that new tradition continued this year.
Despite the rain, long delay and confusion over FOX‘s broadcast over last year’s race, NASCAR still produced a fantastic race. Yeah, Mother Nature may have been in a mood, but everything else went perfect for stock car racing’s biggest day. The cars looked fast, the racing was intense and the winner…only the biggest name in the sport.
For those who stayed up late and pulled through the brutally boring delay, they witnessed a masterful piece of driving. They witnessed the resurrection of a driver who had become lost among the other 42 drivers. As if the return of the No. 3 at Daytona brought along a powerful force, it was quite obvious that something bigger followed Dale Earnhardt Jr. around the track. He would put the car in places that didn’t seem possible, he would fill a gap quicker than it appeared and he held the entire field at bay as he controlled the pace of the draft.
It hadn’t been a few races or even a few months since the biggest fan nation in NASCAR saw their driver navigate the 88 marked hunk of metal like a man possessed, it had been years since Jr. had driven that way. Not only did we witness the second-coming of what many believed to be a washed up driver, but we may have also witnessed the resurrection of a dying sport. The struggle to increase viewership and fill the grand stands has been no secret. NASCAR has revamped the Chase, but really all the sport needed was their most famous driver back in Victory Lane.
From the tires and cars to the winner of the race, the 2014 Daytona 500 is exactly what NASCAR needed. It was a great race from when the green flag dropped to when the checkered flag waved nearly 10 hours later. With the 2014 season officially kicked off, NASCAR can only hope that their biggest name continues his new winning ways. For now, the sport should enjoy the brief resurgence because you never know what the next race might bring.
Shane Phillips is a NASCAR Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneRantSports, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also email Shane at ShaneRantNBA@gmail.com.