Super Bowl vs. Daytona 500: No Comparison

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IFebruary 16, 2009

Ahh the Daytona 500. The Grand Daddy of 'em all...The Great American Race...The inaugural event that pits 43 cars on the 2.5-mile high banked infamous oval known as Daytona International Speedway.

Every driver, owner, and team wants to win the Daytona 500. Every fan wants to watch their driver, owner, and team visit Gatorade Victory Lane, but who wants to win the Daytona 400?

For only the fourth time in the event's 51 years, the Daytona 500 failed to reach 200 laps. The other times were: 1965 when Fred Lorenzen won in 129 laps (322.5 miles), 1966 when Richard Petty won the race in 198 laps (495 miles), 2003 saw Michael Waltrip win the biggest event of the year in 109 laps (272.5 mil) and Sunday, Matt Kenseth won the race in 152 laps (380 miles).

So while we fans may be grumbling and fumbling over Sunday's results, it could have been worse. I mean look back to 2003. 109 laps? That's just crazy.

Mother Nature is the great unknown when it comes to NASCAR. Sure, the teams can have the best setups, the best pit crew, crew chief and driver, but if rain comes at the worst time, none of that matters.

In Sunday's case, Mother Nature showed up at the opportune time for the No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford driven by Matt Kenseth.

The victory is Kenseth's 17th Cup win in 329 NASCAR races. The top-10 was his eighth in 19 races at DIS, and he now leads the points standings for the first time since October 2006. It was also owner Jack Roush's first Daytona 500 win.

But back to the title of the story. I saw a lot of comments about NASCAR calling Daytona the supposed Super Bowl of the sport.

At first, I'll admit, I was furious that NASCAR had decided to call the race off—honestly, give it at least more than 20 minute before you call off the biggest race of the year!

But after sleeping on it and taking some time, comparing whether NFL would cancel the Super Bowl and whether NASCAR should have called off the Daytona 500 are like comparing lap times of Eli Manning on foot and Jeff Gordon in his DuPont Chevy—there is no comparison.

Sure, the Daytona 500 can be called the Super Bowl of NASCAR, but let's take a minute to look at the differences.

First, the NFL can play in inclement weather. These guys are throwing a football around and tackling each other. Who doesn't love a good old football game out in the rain?

On the other hand, NASCAR's drivers are traveling 180 mph on tires with very little grip already. 

"But they could have went to treaded tires and windshield wipers...right?"

Maybe—but do you hop on the interstate traveling 180 in a rain storm because you have tread and windshield wipers? No.

The fact is, there is no reason to continue a race in the rain. It's too dangerous. On a road course where speeds are under 70-80 mph and the top speeds are very brief, I can understand trying it.

But on an oval where the cars run wide open for 2.5 miles, it would be way too dangerous.

Others suggested NASCAR could have waited out the storm, as they did for the July race where the green flag fell at 11 p.m. and the checkered did so after 2 a.m. (I was one of those, by the way).

I'd say if you interviewed the entire crowd as they left the race Sunday night you would have gotten a 50-50 split on whether they would have hung around until 11 p.m. (around the time NASCAR estimated it could "possibly" be ready to start again) or opted to go home and listen to the final laps if they happened on the radio.

Obviously, you can't count the infield people here, they have RVs they can hang out in during the weather.

My point is, NASCAR can't please everyone. They sure don't please me a lot, but there are plenty of times they do.

If NASCAR had opted to hold off until 11 p.m. and then still couldn't get the race started, we'd all be complaining today that they should have called it back at 6:30.

Was the Daytona 400 ruined because it didn't finish the entire 200 laps? Unless you are a Kenseth fan, you are probably thinking yes. But it wasn't.

What we saw Sunday afternoon was just the beginning of the greatest sports season around. Besides, who doesn't love a little controversy to start the year?

Off to California we go!