Daytona 500 was an instant classic

February 15, 2010, 8:12 PM

By: Eddie Gossage

After time to reflect, Sunday's Daytona 500 ranks among the best races I've ever seen in 31 years in NASCAR. Even with the two red flags, the race ranks in my top three.

The best race I've ever seen was the 1992 running of The Winston, now known as the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. In a three-man competition between Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Petty and Davey Allison, the race saw three lead changes between the third turn and the finish line. Earnhardt crashed in Turn 3 while Petty and Allison crashed just before the finish line. Allison's car spun across the finish line to win before hitting the outside wall hard. He was airlifted to the hospital because of the impact (he was bruised and battered but otherwise unhurt) instead of going to Victory Lane.

Hornish, Castroneves

AP Photo

Eddie Gossage's second-best finish: When Sam Hornish Jr. beat Helio Castroneves to the checkered flag by 0.0096 seconds to win the Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in 2002.

The second-best I've seen was the 2002 Chevy 500 Indy Racing League event here at Texas. Sam Hornish Jr. edged Helio Castroneves at the finish line by 0.0096 seconds. Hornish not only won the race but nipped Castroneves by that margin for the season-long championship. It was an instant classic.

And so was Sunday's Daytona 500, pothole and all.

Do you think anybody hates NASCAR's rule change of last week on the green-white-checker overtime rule more than Kevin Harvick? NASCAR changed the overtime rule from one try at a green-white-checkered finish to three tries. If the rule hadn't been changed, Harvick would have been declared the winner when a caution came out during the first overtime period.

As it was, Jamie McMurray was in the lead at the end of the second overtime. The change cost about a million dollars between the first-place payout and the seventh-place payout, where Harvick finished. More importantly to Harvick, he wanted the win because he hasn't won a point race since taking the Daytona 500 three years ago. The winner's paycheck could have been 10 cents and Harvick would have run over his grandmother to win Daytona. By the way, I like the rule. Sorry Kevin.

The top five in the Daytona 500 included three Chevys, one Ford and one Toyota. The highest-finishing Dodge was Kurt Busch way back in 23rd. It makes you wonder if Dodge is on equal footing with the other three manufacturers. It may just be a restrictor plate issue for Dodge. We'll learn more this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in California, where the plates come off the engines. Perhaps an even better litmus test will be at Las Vegas in a couple of weeks.

New Indy chassis concepts

Indy cars excite me. When I look at one, I see something bred specifically for the purpose of going lightning fast. I just love watching Indy car races.

The IRL plans to move to a new chassis in 2012 and last week three different makers rolled out their concepts -- one by chassis maker Dallara, one from Swift and one from Delta Wing. The Delta Wing is championed by Indy car team owner Chip Ganassi.

After looking at the concepts and thinking about it for five days, I honestly don't know what to say about them. I'm speechless. Particularly about the Delta Wing. Seriously?

Speechless.

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