Daytona Winners and Losers
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on July 8, 2013 | 9:13 A.M. EST
Jimmie Johnson became the first driver since Bobby Allison in 1982 to sweep Daytona with wins in February’s 500 and Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400. (Photo: Getty Images)
Several drivers enjoyed their holiday weekend at Daytona International Speedway while others had a dud of an Independence Day celebration.
Jimmie Johnson – Became the first driver since Bobby Allison in 1982 to sweep Daytona with wins in February’s 500 and Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400. Although it was a typically wild Daytona dash to the checkered flag, Johnson dominated the race leading 94 laps on his way to victory number four of the season.
Tony Stewart – While he wasn’t able to score Coke Zero 400 victory number five in his last nine starts, Stewart followed Johnson across the finish line and got things pointed in the right direction after two weeks of disappointing performances.
Michael Waltrip – Say what you will about the team co-owner/analyst and part-time driver, but Waltrip can wheel a car in a restrictor plate race. Brought home the No. 55 MWR Camry in an impressive fifth-place effort on Saturday night.
Kurt Busch – Raced his way into the top 10 of the Sprint Cup Series point standings with a sixth place Daytona finish. Busch sure has the looks of a driver ready to march his way into the Chase for the upstart Furniture Row Racing team.
Casey Mears – How about a shout out to Mears and the Germain Racing team for a ninth-place finish? It was the veteran driver's first appearance in the top 10 since October of 2009.
Kasey Kahne – Got knocked out of the race in a violent wreck that was triggered when Johnson made contact with Marcos Ambrose who in turn rammed into Kahne’s Chevrolet. Rather than competing for the win, Kahne angrily climbed from his destroyed racecar with a 32nd-place finish.
Joey Logano – Fell out of the top 10 and a Chase berth when he cut a tire and slammed the wall early in the race and was forced to limp around for a 40th-place finish. Just like that Logano slid all the way down to 15th in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
Denny Hamlin – Another week and another hard crash into the wall for the embattled Joe Gibbs Racing driver. Forget the fairy tale about Hamlin making the Chase, what he needs now are a few accident-free races for both his mental state as well as physical well-being.
TNT Viewers – Commercials will always be a big part of live sporting events and trying to place them inside a NASCAR race may be one of the most difficult propositions in the industry. But TNT went from several years of presenting the July Daytona race in its “Wide Open Coverage” format to a commercial-laden telecast that had fans in fits and venting their anger through social media.
Grand Marshals – The “command” to start engines delivered by Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Shaquille O’Neal (all hawking their upcoming movie “Grown Ups 2”) wasn’t just bad, unfunny and painful to listen to, it was possibly the worst in the history of motorsports. Having some fun with the command is perfectly acceptable but what fans had to endure Saturday night was an embarrassment to the sport and put NASCAR in an incredibly bad light.