Wow, NASCAR wasn't kidding when it said it was changing things up a bit this year.
I mean, I've seen lots of Daytona 500s before. I've never seen it become a mini-series, though.
Six-plus hours after the drop of the green, Jamie McMurray held off a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the "War and Peace" 500, a scintillating finish that almost but not quite was worth waiting for. I won't say it was as big a fiasco as Tiregate at Indy in 2008, but it wasn't far off.
A couple of observations:
* The pothole issue between turns 1 and 2 that stopped the race twice for nearly two-and-a-half hours was inexcusable. Seriously, if you're going to claim to be the one of the great racing venues in the world, you really need to repave your racing surface more then once every three decades or so. I've seen county roads that are in better shape than Daytona International was today.
* The new rule mandating three green-white-checker tries instead of one saved the race from finishing under yellow. But, seriously. It took them three tries to get through two laps without somebody wrecking somebody? Please don't ever try to tell me again these are the best drivers in the world.
* Kudos to Junior. He came to this weekend with real questions about his ability, and then in two laps he answered every one of them, charging from 10th to second and very nearly running down McMurray. An amazing display.
* The best move of the race, however, belonged to Kevin Harvick. His dive to the bottom on the second green-white-checker restart between Greg Biffle and Martin Truex Jr. -- who tried in vain to slam the door on him from the outside -- would have been one of the more memorable race-winning moves in Daytona history if Jeff Gordon hadn't wrecked Kasey Kahne back in the pack seconds later.
I have no idea what Gordon thought he was trying to do. But he likely cost Harvick the race.