Daytona 500: Gatorade Duel 150s

Frank D.P.Contributor IFebruary 15, 2008

Couple of great races yesterday in the Gatorade Duel 150s. I’m not a NASCAR fan that needs to see a bunch of wrecks to enjoy the races, and yesterday's were some of the best Duel 150s I’ve seen in quite a while.

50th Daytona 500 Lineup

Props to Michael Waltrip and his team. I was pulling for Dale Jarrett to make the field for the Daytona 500 and, with a lot of help from Waltrip, he did. Last season, there were times it was just painful watching the problems Michael Waltrip Racing was having.

“I’m here for you. You tell me when you need me,” Waltrip radioed to Jarrett. He was as good as his word, giving up his place at the front of the field and coming to Jarrett’s aid.

Waltrip pushed Jarrett up to third overall before dropping back and leaving the No. 44 car to fend for itself. Jarrett caught a break when Carpentier blew a tire and hit the wall, smashing both his car and his Daytona 500 hopes.

But the accident also brought out a red flag that forced a final restart and a green-white-checkered finish.

Enough to compete with Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing? We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m pretty sure it will be a lot better than last season.

“To know that we’re capable now of coming down and racing our way in, that’s such a difference from 365 days ago,” said Jarrett, who failed to qualify for 12 races last year as Michael Waltrip Racing struggled to get on its feet.

“We couldn’t do that. We did it, and now we have the opportunity to work on this thing and get ourselves in position to win the Daytona 500.”

The biggest disappointment from yesterday was that for the first time since 1962, Wood Brothers Racing won’t have a car in the field.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he spent some time earlier in the week down near Daytona Beach, where cars used to run half the race on the beach and the other half on a closed road.

He said he stopped in a gift shop, bought a DVD of 1950s and ’60s races and made a phone call to check on some more history.

“So, I was sitting there in the street, and I knew that they turned left there and went across and came back up the other side, and I didn’t know which street it was, so I called my dad.  I said, ‘Which street was it that was turn one?’ And he said, ‘It was Beach Street.’ I looked up, and that’s where I was. I left there, and I’m getting ready to pull out, and I look over, and there’s Richard Petty. He was there, too. That’s what the Daytona 500 is.”

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