I walked into work two days after the Daytona 500, and the first two people I spoke with about the race essentially opened with, “What an awful last lap Danica had.”
Danica Patrick started the last lap third and finished eighth. At Daytona, you can start the final lap third and finish in traction. (Guess their TVs were busted for the Saturday race.) It was the most unfair standard ever applied to an athlete in the history of competitive sports.
Then last Friday came and the questions from NASCAR novices came fast and furious about how Patrick was doing at Phoenix. They wanted some magic again. The uninitiated equated one pole lap at Daytona with a Tiger Woods-esque infatuation with Patrick that just can’t be fulfilled.
By June, will she wish she had qualified fourth?
* When it was announced that the NRA would sponsor the April Sprint Cup race at Texas, the two main things Speedway Motorsports Chairman Bruton Smith told ESPN.com was (1) the NRA was one of the top sponsors of Speedway Children’s Charities, which Smith founded, and (2) he personally wishes that “we,” presumably meaning the country, could get our hands on assault weapons and “melt them down.”
If Smith feels that way, then the top name that should be on the guest at his Fort Worth track next month is obvious: Gabrielle Giffords. If Smith, like many, believe that the NRA should be about supporting shotguns — not machine guns — then welcoming the NRA and Giffords at the same time should be nothing but a positive for the organization.
Smith makes a lot of statements for effect. In this case, I hope he makes a sincere invitation.
* It was notable when Carl Edwards won Sunday in Phoenix that he immediately went through an open fence door near the flag stand to celebrate with fans. Similar fence doors at NASCAR tracks allow fans with certain ticket packages to roam the infield before the race and quickly get back up to the stands when it’s time for the action.
It’s a cruel irony — one of the main reasons that Daytona International Speedway will get nailed when sued by fans who got hurt at the end of the Nationwide race is because it had a element to its fence that was meant to serve fans.
Those who were injured have every right to seek remediation to be made whole. I just hope they do so with a certain level of common sense, and even appreciation, for what Daytona was trying to do for them.
Follow Josh Stewart on Twitter @JoshNASCARWWE