NASCAR Power Rankings: Daytona

Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IFebruary 18, 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14:  Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jamie McMurray

After a last-lap pass of Greg Biffle, McMurray held off Biffle and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. down the stretch to capture the Daytona 500, a near seven-hour ordeal unofficially dubbed "The Late American Race."  An emotional McMurray, who faced an uncertain future after his tenure with Roush Fenway Racing ended last year, wept in victory lane and thanked car owner Chip Ganassi for giving him another chance.

"I have to thank everyone who had faith in me," said McMurray. "And speaking of 'faith,' winning at Daytona is truly a religious experience. Not only is this track sacred ground, it's also 'hole-y' ground. I never considered myself a 'hole-y roller' until now. And I say that 'hole-heartedly. Now I feel important, like a big fish, a 'hole-y mackerel' if you will.  And, in honor of team co-owner Felix Sabates' and teammate Juan Montoya's Hispanic heritage, you could say a win in the 500 is like taking the 'hole' enchilada."

"Victory? It tastes great. NASCAR's ability to repair a pothole in timely fashion? Less filling. FOX announcer Darrell Waltrip was profoundly prophetic when he yelled at the start of the race 'Boogity, boogity, boogity! Let's go paving, boys!'"

2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Earnhardt's late-race charge ended on Jamie McMurray's bumper and not in victory lane, giving him a disappointing finish to the Daytona 500, but a promising start to the 2010 season. Earnhardt led four laps on the day and earned a tidy $1,090,795 for his efforts.

"It was a hair-raising finish," said Earnhardt, "but after I completed my mad dash to the front, I could hear an audible sigh of relief from the entirety of Junior Nation.  I think it registered a .28 on the Breathalyzer."

"Despite what happens on the track this year, it will be a great year in the marketing domain. As you know, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. merchandise is always a top seller, and with Danica Patrick all over the airwaves, merchandising intake for JR Motorsports could be through the roof as well.  Already, we're in talks to market Danica's No. 7 GoDaddy.com Impala as a miniature collectible. Hotwheels has made an offer we can't refuse, as has Matchbox, but with hybrids being such a big deal these days, we've decided to market her car under the brand name HotBox®. Only Teresa Earnhardt could screw up such a marketing gold mine."

3. Greg Biffle

Biffle pushed Jamie McMurray into the lead on the Daytona 500's final restart, and Biffle briefly overtook McMurray for the lead as the field took the white flag.  But McMurray quickly regained the top spot, and held off Biffle and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who passed Biffle for second.  Biffle's third in the race left him satisfied, but wondering if he should have waited to make a move on McMurray.

"Can you blame me if I said I was 'tired of waiting' when I made that move?" said Biffle. "This may be the only automobile race in history to be defined mostly by sitting still. Call it 'The Great American Idle Race.' If there would have been any more 'parking,' we'd have needed valets. You know it was a long race because there were two intermissions. But we've got to be grateful for the fans and viewers who stuck around for the finish. They'll be happy to hear that Van Halen's 'I'll Wait' has been named the official song of the 2010 Daytona 500."

4. Clint Bowyer

Bowyer led the charge for the resurgent Richard Childress Racing team, as all three RCR cars finished in the top 11.  Bowyer led 37 laps, second only to teammate Kevin Harvick's 41, and Bowyer's Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy was fast all day.

"I think I would have been the most appropriate winner in this year's Daytona 500," said Bowyer. "After all, a Cheerio has a hole in it. And, if I'm not mistaken, I think those potholes at Daytona were patched with Hamburger Helper."

"Harvick and I may have led the race for only a combined 78 of 208 laps, But in terms of time, I think we held the lead for at least four hours. Of course, most of that was spent parked on the track. Sadly, for the fans, they saw more of drivers making friends while parked than making enemies while driving. But, with 52 lead changes, you have to give the race a 'passing' grade. However, with so much time spent waiting for pothole repairs, you have to give NASCAR a 'moving' violation."

5. Kevin Harvick

Harvick held the lead with 38 laps to go, and looked to have the car to beat as the field sat idle while NASCAR officials repaired a pesky hole in the track that had already delayed the race once. But as is often the case at Daytona, the unpredictability of the draft in the closing laps cost Harvick the lead and a chance to win his second 500.

"Unfortunately," said Harvick, "I was unable to 'sit' on the lead.  But I think it's good for the fans to sit and fight boredom for 1-2 hours.  Now they can say they know what it's like to attend a drivers' meeting."

"As for the finish, circumstances, and not skill, are often the difference in winning and losing. I did choose the wrong line, but Carl Edwards didn't do me any favors by jamming up the middle. I've developed a habit for blaming Carl Edwards for everything, including these mysterious bruises on my neck. I'm not a big fan of Carl's driving on super-speedways. Heck, he thinks 31 degree banking is using an ATM in the winter."

6. Matt Kenseth

Kenseth, the defending 500 champion, failed to repeat his success of a year ago, but still finished eighth after surviving an unpredictable day at Daytona.  Kenseth, in the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford, fought handling issues early, but steady adjustments throughout the day left him near the front in the end.

"Now I've seen it all," said Kenseth. "Last year, the race was shortened when the skies opened up. This year, it was lengthened when the ground opened up. And that hole kept getting bigger. Why? Because it had to be large enough to hold two hours of a wasted Sunday for thousands of people. I'm sure fans and drivers alike were saying the same thing there at the end: 'We need another green-white-checkered finish like we need another hole in the track."

7. (Tie) David Reutimann/Martin Truex, Jr.

Reutimann joined Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr. in the top 10 at Daytona, as the duo finished fifth and sixth, respectively, on a long and grueling day in chilly Florida.

"Sure it was a tough day," said Reutimann. "But these Toyotas are a breeze to drive at Daytona. All you have to do is floor it, take your foot off the gas pedal, and relax. Who says a stuck accelerator is grounds for a recall? Not me. Nowadays, Joe Gibbs Racing magnets aren't the only things that make a gas pedal stick to the floor."

8. Mark Martin

Martin started from the pole and rolled the No. 5 Hendrick GoDaddy.com Chevrolet to a solid twelfth-place finish in an eventful yet time-consuming Daytona 500. It was an up-and-down day for Hendrick Motorsports, as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished second, while Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson came home twenty-sixth and thirty-fifth, respectively.  Overall, it was a solid start in Martin's latest quest for a Sprint Cup championship.

"I'm waiting for my day in the limelight," says Martin. "At first glance, it would seem I'm referring to winning a title. But no, I'm talking about something with a much more realistic chance of occurring — my own racy, sexually-suggestive GoDaddy.com-inspired commercial. How does this set-up sound? In the commercial, I've got Danica over my knee giving her a spanking. Sounds good so far, right? Of course, it will be an ad for the website 'WhosYourGoDaddy.com?'"

9. Carl Edwards

Edwards lined up third on the final restart on lap 207 of the Daytona 500, but found no help as he slid to the middle groove and fell to ninth at the checkered flag. Roush Fenway teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth also finished in the top 10, while former Roush Fenway driver Jamie McMurray won the race.

"It would have been great to usher in fatherhood with a win at Daytona," said Edwards. "But, like me last year, or like Karl Malone in the 1997 NBA Finals, or your local postal carrier, there was no delivery on Sunday. When the child is born, I think we'll call him 'Victor,' or call her 'Victoria.' If this year's anything like last year, that may be as close as I get to 'victory.'"

"If you watched Sunday's broadcast on Fox, you probably noticed my Aflac commercials, and you probably noticed that there were entirely too many opportunities to show them. If you did, in fact, visit NoQuack.com, then you have way too much time on your hands. By that same token, if you watched all of Sunday's race, then you also have too much time on you hands."

"Now, if Aflac really does want people to visit that web site, it's always a good idea to inform potential visitors that the web content is unrated. That's GoDaddy.com's tricky way of driving people to their site, and then inevitably disappointing them. Anyway, for more Aflac-affiliated sites, visit their private investigation division at PeekingDuck.com, or file a sexual harassment claim at DuckDuckGoosed.com, or send a funny video to DuckTaped.com, or look for roofing work at DuckandCovered.com."

10. Juan Montoya

Montoya finished tenth at Daytona as Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray took the victory in dramatic fashion. Montoya, one of only three 2009 Chase qualifiers to crack the top 10 at Daytona, started eighth and led two laps.

"It was a race full of surprises. And all that was foreshadowed by the biggest surprise of all — Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski starting on the same row without incident. Now that's a surprise."

"Anyway, McMurray has made Chip Ganassi a very happy man. Finally, there's some balance to this team. Last year, I was the guy who carried this team with a chip on his shoulder. Now Jamie's the one being carried around on the shoulders of Chip."


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