5 Lessons Learned: Restrictor Plate Racing Is Pure Insanity

At Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida on July 6, 2015. CIA Stock Photo
At Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida on July 6, 2015. CIA Stock Photo

By Jared Turner


NASCAR Will Wait Out The Rain

Good luck trying to remember the last time NASCAR started a night race three-and-a-half hours after its scheduled start time. That’s exactly what happened at Daytona, though, where NASCAR weathered bleak forecasts to get the 2.5-mile track dry and race-ready within just a few minutes of the clock striking midnight. Once the race began, however, there were no stoppages for weather. While racing at such a late hour was far from ideal, NASCAR did the right thing in waiting it out, rather than throwing in the towel prematurely and forcing everyone to return on Monday when there is a test at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday.

Junior Has His Plate Mojo Back

It’s hard to believe that Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t win a single restrictor-plate race from 2005-2013. With his victory at Daytona, NASCAR’s most popular driver has now captured the two most recent plate races – which also include the May race Talladega. Suddenly, Earnhardt is starting to drive again at Daytona and Talladega like the Earnhardt of old who made the plate tracks his personal playground early on his career when he was virtually unstoppable at both Daytona and Talladega. Combine Junior’s latest Daytona win and Talladega win from May with a third-place finish at The World Center of Racing in February’s Daytona 500, and it’s obvious he’s the man to beat once more at the plate tracks.

Sprint Cup Cars, Tracks Are Safer Than Ever

How Austin Dillon walked away basically uninjured from the violent last-lap crash in which his No. 3 Chevrolet went airborne and slammed into the catch fence near the start-finish line is a true testament to the safety of today’s Sprint Cup Series cars. There was literally almost nothing left of Dillon’s mangled machine, yet the oldest grandson of team owner Richard Childress and the former XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series champion managed to escape with merely a bruised forearm and tailbone. And, thankfully, none of the injuries suffered by fans in the vicinity of where Dillon’s car hit the fence were reported to be of the serious nature.

Restrictor-Plate Racing Is Pure Insanity

As is usually the case at restrictor-plate races, there were multiple multi-car wrecks – aka “Big Ones” – at Daytona on Sunday night and early Monday morning. It took just three laps after the green flag finally waved with the midnight hour approaching for a major accident to erupt and collect nine cars. Among them were some of the sport’s biggest names – including Danica Patrick, 2015 Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Sam Hornish Jr. The most vicious of all the melees, of course, occurred on the final lap when Austin Dillon’s No. 3 car went airborne and sailing into the catch fence near the start-finish line. Thankfully, everyone walked away without serious injury.

Kyle Busch Still Has Work To Do

Coming off a huge win at the Sonoma Raceway road course in Northern California, Kyle Busch came to Daytona still needing to make up major ground to move into the top 30 in the standings and thereby become eligible for the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Despite losing two laps in an early collision with the wall, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver finished 17th – not great, but a solid outcome when considering how his night started. Busch now has nine races to climb from 37th place – the same points position he was in when he arrived at Daytona for the July 4 weekend.