The race is finally over.
The partying in Daytona may continue all week, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Great American Race, cemented his Chase status after one week, shut up his critics and proved himself to be a real contender to win the 2014 Sprint Cup. There can’t be a bigger winner from the weekend.
Still, there are others who will feel the impact of Daytona for months to come. Here’s a quick breakdown, Bert Convy style.
Win: Denny Hamlin
Hamlin excelled in qualifying, won the Sprint Unlimited, won a shootout and finished second. Oh yeah, Hamlin didn’t have a spotter for most of Sunday because of audio issues.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) February 24, 2014
Hamlin has a dreadful 2013 but seems to be refreshed mentally and aligned with his team. For Hamlin to “wing it” and almost win Daytona would have been movie script material.
Six hours of delays is a disaster for anyone broadcasting a live event. Kudos to FOX for trying to extend its coverage as much as possible. But the confusion caused by showing last year’s race is inexcusable, especially when the FOX News reported that Jimmie Johnson won the race. So much for every race being unique.
It’s also difficult for FOX to gloss over its own nightly programming to run the race at 8:30, showing empty stands as visuals because many fans had to leave. Plus, the race ended after 11 which means many kids didn’t see their favorite driver win the sport’s biggest race. While the broadcast itself was fine, FOX has had better days.
It’s most popular driver won its most popular race. The good news is ESPN is covering the victory as its lead the day after the Olympics ended.
In this day and age, nobody will ever bat 1.000 in the social space. But an amazing moment happened at Daytona last night. It’s one that will own the focus of national media for the next few days. Let’s see how the #88 and NASCAR’s media team make the most of it.