Thursday night’s Duels at Daytona were delayed slightly by a brief rain shower. Something that appeared to shock the NASCAR media corps who have been to Florida every year since they started covering the sport. Bizarre.
After the rain rolled out fans were treated to two very competitive races that had way more close calls than most crew chiefs probably wanted. And while these races were run at night it did teach us a lot about what to expect on Sunday for the Daytona 500.
Ricky Stenhouse Has The Best Car
Hands down Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has the best car in the field. His JTG-Daugherty #47 Camaro was able to do whatever he told it to last night as he paced the field for the majority of the race. Stenhouse can lead, he can push, he can switch lanes mid-corner, he can pull the bottom line back up to the front. While the #47 was set up for pure speed it handled damn well too. With more Chevy friends in his Duel, he likely wins the thing even with Chevy’s terrible strategy.
Every Manufacturer Will Only Work With Their Kind
“One fast Chevy isn’t going to beat 7 fast Fords.” – Joey Logano forgetting there were only 4 Chevys in his Duel race.
Like last year each manufacturer has orders to only work with their OEM teammates. It’s a short-sighted approach that fails more often than it succeeds. But hey, we get to watch entire teams get wiped out on Sunday.
Chevy Still Has No Idea How To Do Strategy
After their absolute debacle of strategy in The Clash you had to think they’d clean everything up but you’d be wrong. On Thursday night Chevy solidified themselves as the Ferrari F1 of NASCAR strategy.
After pitting on Lap 23 of Duel #1 the Ford teams stayed on track and stretched out a lead that would see them be 8 seconds ahead of the Chevy line once the pit cycle was complete. Thanks to Daniel Suarez and Ryan Blaney, Chevy got bailed out of their terrible strategy call.
So what did they do in Duel #2? RAN IT BACK JUST LIKE DUEL 1. And guess what? THEY GOT SMOKED AGAIN. This time 6 seconds behind the Ford/Toyota line with no chance of catching them. A JJ Yeley crash bailed them out again.
What we’re getting at here is if it comes down to strategy on Sunday don’t put your money on a Chevy team.
It’s Not Tandem Drafting But It’s Close
Tandem drafting isn’t fully back. However, we have seen multiple teams hook up and push the front car out to a pretty decent lead. Sunday’s race could easily be won on a tandem push much like The Clash was last Sunday.
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff