The thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat.
No other sport so brilliantly captures the roller coaster ride of this phrase as well as restrictor plate racing in NASCAR.
Last night’s Daytona 500, postponed numerous times due to rain but ultimately won by Matt Kenseth, was a quintessential example.
As you all know, I was given the opportunity to be paired up with a driver this past weekend for the Daytona 500. When it was rained out on Sunday, I was deflated. There was no way I would be able to follow the race while at work (I’m a teacher).
But then it was postponed again, and I was able to watch my driver, Ryan Newman, go for the win and send me to Charlotte.
Then the race started, and almost immediately my hopes were dashed.
Newman got a flat tire early on and was shuffled all the way down to the bottom of the pack, two laps down. He would not be denied though. He battled, and battled, and battled, and finally got back on the lead lap.
Then, the craziest thing in NASCAR history happened.
After two hours, 100,000 twitter followers, and a nice nap, the race was back on.
The final 40 laps were unbelievable. Newman, who had been stuck in the back all day, finally worked his way up to 8th.
If you don’t remember from my interview with Newman, he’s a bit of a risk taker. When asked how he determined whether or not he was successful, he responded coolly, “All I care about is the win.”
What a great guy to be supporting in a “Winner take all” contest like this. With four laps to go, Newman was stuck on the inside in 8th place. There appeared to be no way he would be able to win. He had to take a chance.
When his teammate, Tony Stewart, came flying up the outside, Newman jumped at his opportunity. He slid up the track and prepared to try and track down the leaders in the outside lane.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t Newman’s day. Behind him, a few cars ran into each other and Kyle Busch ended up being sent sideways, directly into Newman.
Actually, the Rocketman did an unbelievable job of saving his car from catastrophic damage, and he was able to finish the race on the lead lap…but there would be no victory for Newman at Daytona this year.
As I said before, it was good to be tied to a driver who would go all out. As it turned out, Matt Kenseth was in the contest as well, so an 8th place finish wouldn’t have been good enough for me anyway.
Thank you, Rocketman, for one of the most thrilling roller coaster rides in a while.
For full race details, click here.
Or, for a more detailed summary, visit here.