Remembering 2 Daytona 500s That Went Completely Off the Rails, and 1 That Was a Total Dud
The Daytona 500 is, bar none, the crown jewel of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
In fact, no breed even remotely compares to the 500 – aptly nicknamed “The Great American Breed” – in terms of greatness, notoriety and prestige.
But even with all the buzz and excitement surrounding the annual Cup Series campaign launch event, it’s not guaranteed that every Daytona 500 will go exactly as planned. After all, this year marks the 65th edition of the flagship event, so in its last 64 editions, something was bound to go wrong at some point.
Next, we’ll look back at two Daytona 500s that went completely off the rails for unpredictable reasons, and then we’ll reflect on a 500 that ended up being such a complete misfire that it irritated arguably the sport’s greatest rider of all time.
The infamous pothole incident at the 2010 Daytona 500
Jamie McMurray won the 2010 Daytona 500, fending off Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a tight finish of a competitive race that featured 52 lead changes and four multi-car wrecks.
But to this day, that race is best remembered for a pesky pothole that resulted in two red flag stops totaling two hours and 24 minutes for track repairs that left many viewers and in-person spectators irritated. and agitated.
The hole, which appeared between Turns 1 and 2 on the 2.5-mile superspeedway, likely had a lot to do with the fact that Daytona’s aging asphalt racing surface was last repaved in 1978. combination of cooler than usual temperatures and rain that had soaked the track earlier in the weekend probably didn’t help either.
Fortunately, the track officials’ second attempt to fill and smooth the pothole at least worked well enough for the drivers to go through the final 32 laps without more pothole-related setbacks. But it was the pothole – not race winner McMurray or runner-up Earnhardt or anyone else – that stole the show and left a stain on an otherwise enjoyable afternoon.
Juan Pablo Montoya’s notorious collision with a jet dryer at the 2012 Daytona 500
As if it wasn’t bad enough that the 2012 Daytona 500 became the first 500 in the race’s 54-year history to be postponed from Sunday to Monday due to rain, things took a much more serious turn. serious once the race actually started on Monday evening. .
In one of the most bizarre moments not only in Daytona 500 history but in NASCAR history, driver Juan Pablo Montoya took a partial break on his #42 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chip and suddenly crashed. crushed in a jet dryer while cautious, igniting a massive fire.
As the jet dryer caught fire and dumped approximately 200 gallons of jet fuel onto the track, the inferno quickly spread to the racing surface and required immediate action from safety teams, which rushed to put out the fire but needed more than two hours. repair the track well enough for the race to resume.
Fortunately, neither Montoya nor the jet dryer operator were injured in the crash. Matt Kenseth won his second Daytona 500 in four years, but the result was just a footnote about the Montoya-jet dryer collision, which ultimately led to one of the most famous tweets in NASCAR history – which you can see above.
The painfully monotonous 2000 Daytona 500 even ticked off Dale Earnhardt
The 2000 Daytona 500 was important for several reasons. For one thing, it marked Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s first appearance in The Great American Race and the official kickoff to the third-generation driver’s highly anticipated rookie season in NASCAR’s premier series.
But it was another Dale – defending Cup Series champion Dale Jarrett – who took the win, marking his third Daytona 500 triumph since 1993.
But due to an all-new superspeedway ruleset that required all teams to use the same shocks in an effort to slow the cars and make racing safer, it was arguably the most disappointing Daytona 500 ever. all the time. Not only did the drivers find it nearly impossible to pass as the race featured only nine lead changes – well below the Daytona 500 norm – but one driver, Jarrett, led nearly half the laps in his Ford #88 Robert Yates Racing.
Seven-time Cup Series champion and 1998 Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt finished 21st among the most vocal critics of the much-maligned ruleset.
“This is the worst race I’ve seen at Daytona in a long, long time,” Earnhardt said, as recorded in a throwback YouTube video. “They took the NASCAR Winston Cup races and made it one of the saddest races. They [NASCAR] took racing out of the hands of driver and crew. We can’t adapt, we can’t run our cars the way we want. They just killed the race at Daytona. That’s all I have to say.
But Earnhardt wasn’t quite done with his opinion.
“Mr. Bill France Sr. [NASCAR’s late founder] would probably turn in his grave if he had seen this deal,” Earnhardt said as he walked away from a crowd of reporters.