|The dominance of the top groove creates some |
seriously boring racing at Daytona.
"You know, one of the things that made it hard to pass was nobody, they wouldn't get organized on the bottom. I think you could because there at the end when they got a good line organized, it got to be pretty dangerous. The problem was that the car on the inside of the frontline wasn't the fastest car. If you would have had the fastest car in the field on the inside, you would have had a whale of a race there at the end. But the top groove was the preferred groove. And I don't think that had a lot to do with the Gen-6 as much as everybody was flying, the cars were fast, and the cars seemed to like the momentum you'd get off the corner." said third place finisher Mark Martin.
"Yeah, I got to agree with Mark." Dale Jr. said. "I thought the car put on a really good show all week. We had a really exciting Shootout, the 125s were pretty racy. The car proved at the end of this Daytona 500 that it will race well and put on a good show. That first 150 miles, everybody commits to the top, there's not enough guys to organize on the bottom, you get freight-trained. There's too much risk. You work all day on track position because you got to be toward the front to have a shot at it. You hate to give up any track position. I saw guys like Gordon pull out, go to the back. Too much of a risk. If I could find a car with a gap in front of it, I had a run, I might have been able to side draft. But you have to be patient with that."
Sprint Cup rookie Danica Patrick also echoed the sentiment. "I mean, I spent most of the day half throttle running behind people. So, you know, when you get in that line, that nice outside line where it's just single file, I didn't feel like it was a wise idea to drop low and try to figure out how to pass. You were going to probably find yourself much further back."
Race winner Jimmie Johnson was a little more expansive. "The majority of the competitors wanted to run the top. The draft really works in numbers. There's more there than the bottom. With the side drafting being as effective right now, you could really choke down the bottom lane and pin a guy against the line and slow him down and then get away and have that long line of cars to surge you past. The game's changed a little bit. It used to be defend the bottom, now it's defend the top. In the closing laps, we were all single file, I was leading, I wanted to see what would go on with the middle or bottom and not allow guys to set me up based on my lines. I ran the bottom and no one had a run or did anything. It was an interesting race. Learned a lot through the course of the race with the new Gen-6 car. At the end when it was time to go, I knew we had a straight racecar with no scratches on it. We worked real hard, we had a game plan down here every time. Even though we were in single-car drafts, we had an agenda and things we worked on and made the car a little bit better each day, kept perfecting it. I had one heck of a racecar today." Johnson said.
There were 28 lead changes among 14 drivers. Much of those were under green flag pit cycles.
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