The Daytona 500 proved to be an entertaining race, following a Speedweeks that was largely dominated by mundane single-file racing. But then the problem with this superspeedway pack racing action that fans clamor for reared its ugly head. The final 30 laps of the race were essentially a glorified demolition derby.
Even so, the Nascar green-white-checker finish system ensures there will be something to cheer for (or against) at the end of the races. For me, it was to see if Joey Logano could team up with some fellow Fords (or anyone) to pass the JGR power couple of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
It looked like it was actually going to materialize, as Logano got a push from the Chevrolet of Ryan Preece to get past Busch on the white flag lap. Then, needing one more push to victory, Michael McDowell inexplicably went with Busch briefly, essentially solidifying a JGR 1-2 finish that proved to actually be a 1-2-3 finish with Erik Jones joining the fun.
Logano expressed his frustration post-race, but was rebuffed by McDowell.
“I just told him that my team doesn’t pay me to push Joey Logano to a win,” McDowell said. “That’s not what I get paid to do. At 200 miles an hour I made a split-second decision on what was the fastest car and who had the best shot of winning the race and that’s where I went.”
Logano goes to McDowell for a chat after the race: pic.twitter.com/qbDZzVbQIN
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) February 18, 2019
I can somewhat get past the lack of brand loyalty in McDowell pushing Busch instead of another Ford. After all, it’s not like the Penske cars – or any others -were really eager to work with him earlier in the race. But what doesn’t make sense to me is that by going with Busch, he basically ended not only Joey’s chances, but his own. McDowell’s best chance to win that race was to push Logano forward, and hope to then get by him in a 1-on-1 situation coming to the flag. But pushing another Toyota back into position to lock up with Hamlin ensured that wouldn’t happen.
I guess it was just disappointing to see. A last-lap pass, or attempt, is always the most exciting result. But to see a driver make what seemed to everyone to be the wrong move is frustrating. And McDowell’s refusal to acknowledge it made it even worse.