Why the Daytona 500 is not the SuperBowl of Motorsports… It’s the Coca-Cola 600.

This Sunday, NASCAR will kick-off its 2013 Sprint Cup Season with the Daytona 500, one of the most publicized races of the year.  As many of you know, the Daytona 500 has been referred to as “The SuperBowl of Motorsports” for many years, primarily because of anticipation carried over from the off-season.  In addition to being the starting point for NASCAR’s elite series, the weeks leading up to the Daytona 500 is unique compared to the normal race weekends of practice, qualify, and race.  The sunny, Daytona beaches of Florida are filled with the Sprint Unlimited, pole qualifying, duel races, and several races from some of Nascar’s other divisions.  This all sums up one of the biggest weekends in all of motorsports, only to conclude with the running of the Daytona 500, where practically anybody can end up in victory lane or the infield care center.

So why shouldn’t this race be considered the SuperBowl of motorsports?  Well, let’s use football as an example, since we continue to borrow the name of their beloved championship game.  In the SuperBowl, there is an ultimate test of strength, talent, and perseverance.  Only the best compete for the NFL’s lucrative prize of being called SuperBowl Champs.  That game demands that not only the players from both sides of the ball overcome the elements to compete at a high level, but it also demands cohesiveness and structure from the coaching staff to correctly utilize everyone to their maximum potential.  NASCAR seems to be no different.  Motorsports demand teamwork and communication, while the mechanics of a racecar has many different parts that work in unison.  But, is the Daytona 500 the correct race to implement a name of such majesty? 

Restrictor plate tracks have a long history of making winners out of average drivers.  On the flip side, some of NASCAR’s biggest stars have yet to win this prestigious race.  The rules package, coupled with the inability to maximize horsepower, keeps everyone on a somewhat even playing field for these types of races.  In many instances, it’s just a matter of staying out of trouble long enough to battle for the lead with 20 other cars.  It’s worth noting that restrictor plate races do take a certain type of talent to master, but my argument is that any average driver can develop this talent during a relatively short learning curve.  It’s about being in the right place at the right time for many of these drivers.  This, to me, does not exemplify the true brilliance of being able to masterfully out-perform another team.  It’s almost like winning the lottery – Did you have to practice to win it?

However, there is a race that I feel fully embodies the essence of perseverance in motorsports; the Coca-Cola 600.  Not only is it NASCAR’s longest race, in terms of mileage, but it also provides a true test of strength, talent, and cohesion for all oval tracks.  NASCAR teams have noted that Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the most temperature sensitive race tracks in all of motorsports, while also testing the durability of both car and driver.  And it’s worth mentioning that the extra 100 miles can definitely separate the talent level during the course of a race.  If your car is falling off the pace early, you better act quickly to avoid losing time that could be irreversible.  Strategy is a huge part of winning the Coca-Cola 600.  Not only is the question “when to pit”, but the physical elements of a race that starts with sunlight and ends under the lights can be quite demanding.  Anticipating how the weather impacts the track surface and race car can be the difference between success and failure.  There is no lottery at the Coca-Cola 600.  You can’t cheat failure at this race. 

I know it will be hard for some fans to embrace the Coca-Cola 600 as I do.  Some fans don’t have the attention span to keep up with the long green flag runs that sometimes result in an endurance race of this type, but I feel different.  I love this race and all its glory.  It takes place during Memorial Day weekend and Charlotte Motor Speedway is located practically at the headquarters of NASCAR.  And even though you might not have 30 cars running nose to tail for the win, I feel that the winner of this race took no shortcuts.  The only way to win the Coca-Cola 600 is talent.  That, my friends, is the true SuperBowl of Motorsports.

And Tombo, I hope Kevin Harvick wrecks on the first lap… sorry, I had to do it.

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Comment by Brandon Furr on February 25, 2013 at 3:23pm

Let me explain myself a little better...

I agree that the Daytona 500 is viewed by both drivers and fans as the most prestigous race of the year.  I cannot dispute that fact.  But what I argue here is that it takes a greater amunt of driving skills to master those local short tracks and many of Nascar's intermediate tracks, rather than the type of racing offered at superspeedways.

There will always be upsets.  Thats what makes sports great.  But lets face it, even the most underrated superbowl team had to compete in a division and win several playoff games to get to that game.  So don't try to sell me some cinderella story about a team ranked #32 out of 32 teams that won the superbowl.  I love a great upset, but those analogies aren't what I'm talking about.

I feel that restrictor plates even the playing field for someone like Danica and Trevor Bayne, who don't have the experience to grind out a race that requires more intangables.  For example, do you really think Danica can sit on the pole and run in the top 5 all day when they go to Phoenix?  Come on man... thats what I'm getting at. 

"Uneducated Youth Movement" -   This week has been a friggin' circus with the whole Danica thing.  Its great for Nascar because of the publicity, but it has been like watching TMZ.  These uneducated youths love all the drama with this week between Danica and Ricky, and it all is dependent on the type of track they ran this week and the way restrictor plates level the playing field.  When we get to a flat track that tests the drivers, rather than the equipment, we'll see how good these rookies really are. 

I respect the Wood brothers and all that they have contributed to the sport.  But Trevor Bayne does not exemplify the history and experience that the #21 represents.  He was a young kid who had a great car.

And by the way, they do go 200 mph at Charlotte... I don't want to come across as disrepectful to Nascar or how people feel about the Daytona 500.  I simply wanted to put my opinion out there.  I hope you can see where I'm coming from.

Comment by Dave Norris™ on February 25, 2013 at 8:40am

Great article, and it's actually an article, and not just a small post in the articles section. I ask that anyone who sees this to please make the shorter, quick comment like posts in the "Discussions" section, located HERE. Thank you!

Comment by Brandon Furr on February 19, 2013 at 2:02pm

Come on BiffFan16!!!

I personally think the plate races are a big joke.  I get more and more frustrated when these losers like Michael Waltrip and Trevor Bayne make a living out of superspeedways when they couldn't hang with the big boys at flat tracks.  I know how prestigous the Daytona 500 is, but don't you feel that it seems a little unwarranted. 

The season officially starts at phoenix for me.  Daytona = TMZ


Comment by Chase Me #9 on February 19, 2013 at 10:26am

You said it best when you said some of the best have never won the 500 which is just one of the many reasons it's the top race in Nascar. The 600 gets some what dilutedd with racing when you have Monaco and Indy the same day. Daytona will always be the trophy they all want the most. Back in the day it was winning the Southern 500 that was the top prize.

Comment by Hunt14Smoke on February 19, 2013 at 9:39am

Tony Stewart is taking it this year!! Go Smoke!!!!!

Comment by Merlin the dragon master on February 19, 2013 at 9:32am

my jeff g will win this race 

Comment by Brandon Furr on February 18, 2013 at 3:52pm

haha, ya know, when Kyle Busch wrecked I thought "Man, Tombo is gonna talk some #@*%".  And then Kevin Harvick took the lead in the final segment and was coming down for the win.  I couldn't believe my eyes. Did I jinx myself?  Did I somehow envoke some kind of curse by talking crap to you last week?

It was the worst possible situation.  Kyle wrecks and Kevin wins.  wow

Comment by Tombo on February 18, 2013 at 3:04pm

you know what?this is actually good,well up to the last sentence,lol.

daytona is huge and a very special race but the 600 is mid season and is the longest race at a great track too.

GO KYLE............into the wall again this week.

Comment by Cameron on February 18, 2013 at 3:01pm

I couldnt agree more with you. I love restrictor plate races, they are excited and keep you on edge, but the Daytona 500 isnt the so called "Superbowl". Look at the past winners that are put into the category as an average driver .... you have Trever Bayne and Micheal Waltrip. Both of these drivers have won this race. Charlotte is the center city around Nascar and when May comes around I get more and more excited. First it kicks off with the All Star Race. One of the most exciting races of the year and in my opinion... no points, going for that million dollars, and is way better than the Sports ulimated or what i still want to call it " The Bud Shootout". The Coca Cola 600 follows next and is a very intense race that goes to day to night in this temp. sensitive track. It takes a true champion to win this and if you do accomplish this goal by winning the 600, you are an elite driver and are "One of the Best".

Go Kyle Busch!!!!!!

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