There aint no two sides about it, this years Daytona track was straight up awkward. For a 50th running of an event and all the effort they went through to incessantly repeat that it is the biggest motorcycle racing event in the world, wow was it a blunder.
Both 250 heats fell prey to the whoop-section from Beelzebub’s Lair, WOW was that a crazy situation! Some of the gnarliest crashes we’ve seen in a set of whoops and that’s saying a lot because there are always dudes nearly buying the farm in them. It really sucks for Nick Gaines and the handful of other guys who’s night and subsequent days to weeks will be affected due to them not being shaped better prior to the night show.
Some of the alternate line areas were kinda cool I guess but you know what’s cooler? A wider track where the racers can determine the line choice, not be given the option of A or B, Snickers or Milky Way, Coke or Pepsi… Yes we’ve heard, pit lane got widened, there are sprinklers that can’t be disturbed and the other host of sanctions that hold this race hostage. You know what, there comes a point when the concessions to hold a race turn it into a mockery of what it once was and I think we may be there with Daytona. It’s essentially a skinny , awkwardly long layout that feels like the red headed step child of the series.
I saw the idea floated on Vital that Daytona would make for a cool Triple Crown and I agree. Someone else noted to make it into an East/West Shootout Triple Crown and I say HELL YES!! This race is already one shark pit and the Fonzi from Happy Days away from being a total spectacle that I say lets throw it completely on it’s head and make it a TRULY unique round again. Lets go one step further and turn it back into a daytime race too.
In all honesty, aside from the layout reservations that will continue to have to be made, maybe moving it back to a daytime race would salvage some of what used to make this round pretty uniquely cool and worth getting excited about.
The Eli charge was once again incredible, if not pretty anticipated. It was cool to see Kenny string for so long into the race but it still always felt like a foregone conclusion that Tomac was destined to click that gear that only he and JS7 have been known to do on occasions. I was a little surprised to see Cooper succumb to Eli because after all, there is no one quite like C Webb when it comes to stubbornness of relinquishing a position. He is still going off that gnarly crash and surely a slightly diminished week of preparation though, so I was open to giving him a pass on that pass. I fully expect Cooper Webb to reassert himself as the rounds move back in doors to the more standardized tracks. I think this fight is going to come down to Kenny vs Cooper because I am not convinced that Eli isn’t still going to have that “oops I did it again” round.
It was really cool to see Garret Marchbanks finally assert himself and make his arrival on the pro scene un-ignorable. His first 2 years in the ranks were perplexing and unmemorable. I;’m not gonna say he was as confusing as Thomas Covington’s ill-fated American experience but it was very much full of asking, “what was this guy expected to do again?” From the first East Coast round in 2020 it was obvious, Marchbanks had made huge strides with those long legs of his. He was better, the bike was better and they were working in unison. He’s been consistent and his Daytona win was the exclamation point on his belonging in this class, FOR REAL.
As we head to Indianapolis, the title’s are still up in the air and as if Daytona didn’t already have enough to criticize, they leave me with a sense of “well that weird race is out of the way, let’s get back to business”. There’s gotta be something done to make this race cool again!