Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Simran Kanthi
As the Daytona 500 finally ends, the seven-month grind toward the playoffs starts now. And the start to the season is nothing less than exciting, though the ending to the race was slightly anti-climatic. Let’s walk through three key takeaways from the race weekend in Florida.
The first takeaway is about the new overtime rules by NASCAR. The new rules state that the next flag after the white flag is shown will end the race on the spot. People all across the internet are not very thrilled about this change. Some have expressed displeasure with the anti-climatic finishes and some have suggested that NASCAR should let the drivers race until the checkered flag. NASCAR should consider reverting to old overtime rules as it lets the drivers finish the race.
Another takeaway from the race is that the rookies and the comeback drivers have a chance of taking the top spot. While Ryan Preece has been setting the best lap averages, AJ Allmendinger has been finishing in the top 10 for both Stage 2 and the end of the race. Even though Ryan Preece retired from the race due to a late crash, he performed extremely well and was at the front for most of the first half, including a second-place finish in Stage 1. These two drivers have gotten better since the last time they were in the Cup Series, and they might have a run at a playoff spot.
The rookies have also shown off in their first race of the season. Both Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson went on and had quite a decent race for themselves. Though they finished outside of the top 20, they still had their moments where they were close to the front of the pack. They still have a long way to go, but their future is looking bright ahead.
The last takeaway is that this season might feature a lot of unexpected wins from underdog drivers. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came away with a playoff berth to his name, and just believe that there will be more of them. Last season had one of the wildest regular seasons in recent memory, with 15 different race winners. The race for a playoff berth is as wide open as it can be. Watch out for a dark horse like RFK Racing to walk out of nowhere and win a race unexpectedly.
This NASCAR season has started off with a banger. Daytona has once again given the fans a great race, and a seven-month grind around America starts now. Next up: Fontana, California.