Return To Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - After the uncertainty of the off-season there has been one constant during the first portion of "Speedweeks" here at Daytona.

The racing is great.

Whether last Saturday night's Budweiser Shotout crashfest was your complete cup of tea or not, there was no denying that around the accidents were some torrid battles.

That followed in Thursday's Gatorade Duels with each 150 mile race providing its share of excitement and both ending in tight finishes.

To a man, every driver continues to praise just how good the racing is since returning to Daytona to start the year.

"I can't believe this racing we've seen down here the last few days," said Jeff Gordon after his 150-mile win on Thursday. "It's really been fun behind-the-wheel and I have to think the fans love it."

The combination of the new Sprint Cup car and Daytona's rough surface has give drivers a handful to deal with and not an easy task by any means.

"I think we're all learning to adapt," said Kyle Busch, Thursday's second Duel winner. " It's just so hard to drive these things. They're bouncing all over the place. They're erratic. It makes for a good show. The fans in the stands, I guess they love it. The people on TV love it."

It is that letting it all hang out, running on the edge style that has excited fans watching the annual mid-winter gathering here in sunny Florida.

And the exciting racing so far is exactly what NASCAR needs to begin this critical season.

While Sunday's race is close to being a sell-out, this year's Daytona experience is much different from previous trips to The Sunshine State.

Vacancy signs light up beachfront hotels, restaurants are crowded but certainly not packed and infield RV spots are plentiful, a sign that the real world economy has taken its toll on NASCAR 2009.

But all of that is out of NASCAR's hands. What it can control is the product produced and ensuring the competition is as close as possible.

Those steps are often criticized but right now they appear to be working.

Hopefully it will continue through the weekend as when we pull out of Daytona to start the real season.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2009

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