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2011 Daytona 500: One To Remember

In the immortal words of Darrel Waltrip, “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, let’s go racing, boys!”  Nascar is back!  The season officially starts this Sunday with the running of the sports “Super Bowl”, the Daytona 500. 

Judging by what happened in the Budweiser Shootout, plus the fact that this year marks the 10th year anniversary of the the death of the sports biggest icon, this year’s race is probably going to be one to remember.

Budweiser Shootout
John Harrelson/Getty Images

With a newly paved 2.5 mile track, the speeds will be up and the racing will be  very interesting, to say the least.  In the running of this year’s  Budweiser Shootout, which is basically a pre-season type race, cars have been pairing up to race two by two with speeds up to 204 mph!

Yes, the racing will definitely be different.

Will it be better?

The jury is still out because even though there has already been racing on the newly paved track (Budweiser Shootout), that race only fielded about half of the cars that will be in the Daytona 500.  In other words, with more cars on the track, the racing could be even more unpredictable.

Daytona 500
Geoff Burke

In the past, the Daytona 500 style of racing has been one huge line of cars running nose to tail at the top of the track against a huge line of cars at the bottom of the track.  This has put the cars bundled up together making it anybody’s race.  This has also put the field in a position to cause “the big one” which is in reference to a massive wreck that piles up a lot of cars at the same time.

This year, as I said, should prove to be different.

Regardless, it IS the Daytona 500 and nobody can really predict what will happen on the track.  We can only speculate and come up with our own theory’s.

One thing is for sure, though.  Nascar racing is definitely safer than ever before.

Dale Earnhardt
Andy Lyons /Allsport

It has been  10 years, almost to the date, that Nascar lost one of it’s biggest icons, Dale Earnhardt Sr. The seven time champion lost his life on the last lap on the last turn of the 2001 Daytona 500.

Nascar changed forever that day.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  Me, being a huge Dale Sr. fan and an up and coming Dale Jr. fan, was literally up on my feet watching as the events that shocked the Nascar nation unfolded.  Michael Waltrip was leading the Daytona 500 and posed to win it for the first time.  Dale Jr. was in second, and good ol’ number 3 was in third pushing.  Dale Sr. had a big stake in this outcome as he owned both of the cars he was following.  Suddenly, Dale’s car was clipped in the left quarter panel and turned into the wall.  The impact killed Dale Earnhardt instantly.

I was devastated! Tears rolled down my cheeks as Nascar president, Mike Helton made the formal announcement, “Undoubtedly this is one of the toughest announcements I’ve ever personally had to make. After the accident in Turn 4 at the end of the Daytona 500, we’ve lost Dale Earnhardt”

mike helton
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Since then, Nascar has made a conscientious effort to make the sport safer, and to avoid future tragedies. From a new car to more defined rules involving driver safety, Nascar’s innovative changes will keep the drivers safe well into the future.

number 3
Darrell Ingham

In this year’s Daytona 500, Nascar will honor Dale Earnhardt Sr. with a silent lap on lap 3, Earnhardts famed car number, as well as painting his number on the track.

Yes, with a newly paved track, and the honoring of one of Nascar’s fallen, this year’s Daytona 500 will definitely be one to remember.

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