Heartbreak Hotel!

2009 Daytona 500 225

(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

“Well since my baby left me, I have found a new place to dwell, down at the end of Lonely St. at “Heartbreak Hotel”!  I’m feeling so lonely baby, I’m feelin’ so lonely I could die”

“Heartbreak Hotel” was most likely the song many of the teams were singing last night after the culmination of the Duels.  That old Elvis Aaron Presley song sums up just how those teams that failed to qualify, or were unable to race their way into this year’s Daytona 500 feel!  The pressure is immeasurable for these race teams to secure a slot in the single largest paying race in the NASCAR season, The Daytona 500 !

The Duels, like the Bud Shootout ended with nail-biting excitement.  There was a large amount of rubbin’ along with the racin’ yesterday during the Duel 150’s!

Duel #1 was won by Jimmie Johnson in his Hendrick Motorsports #48 Lowe’s Chevy, his first Duel victory.  The margin of victory was .005 of a second or about 4 inches!!  Finishing second was Kevin Harvick driving the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Chevy, the victor in the Budweiser shootout.

Duel #2 was equally exciting.  Kasey Kahne, driving the Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Budweiser Ford finished ahead of the Stewart-Haas #14 Office Depot Chevy driven by Tony Stewart.

But even more importantly is the story of who made the Daytona 500 and who must pack up and haul their team back to the shop, thus missing the most important and richest payout of the season!  Even though Michael Waltrip was involved in a spin and crashed into the inside retaining wall, he made the starting lineup of the 2010 Daytona 500 because of failures by other teams.

Michael Mc Dowell and Max Papis earned the two transfer spots allocated from Duel #1.  That means that Michael McDowell will have another highlight for the newsreel other than the horrendous crash that he had at the Texas Motor Speedway in the Michael Waltrip #00 Toyota in 2008.  Additionally Max Papis made it into the 500, his first, in the Gremain #13 GEICO Toyota.

In Duel #2 the transfer spots went to Mike Bliss and Scott Speed.

So the 2010 Daytona 500 field is set.  It is a HMS front row featuring Mark Martin on the pole along side of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., with Earnhardt’s former team mate Michael Waltrip tagging the rear of the field for, what most probably will be his last Daytona 500 race.

For those race teams who are going home and have suffered “the agony of defeat”, there are also 43 race teams remaining that have the opportunity to feel the “the thrill of victory”!  With the few rule changes that NASCAR has instituted at the beginning of the 2010 race season, it appears that it has increased the quality of racing.

It is 2 days til “The Great American Race” gets the green flag!


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