NASCAR

NSCS: Daytona 500 Finish Sets Stage For Memorable 2014 Season

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Photo Credit: Getty Images via NASCAR

 

By David Morgan – Associate Editor (@damorgan86)

February 24, 2014

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — With all of the changes that took place in the Sprint Cup Series during the offseason, the finish of this year’s Daytona 500 has placed the focus back on the racing and has set the stage for a memorable 2014 Sprint Cup Series season.

During the offseason, NASCAR made sweeping changes to the points system for the Sprint Cup Series, making winning more important to make it into the expanded 16 driver Chase field. With the added emphasis on wins, many involved in the sport expect this to be a wild season and this year’s Daytona 500 certainly started that off with a bang.

The race began with a ton of buzz about the return of the No. 3 and the chances of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars to sweep Speedweeks after winning the Sprint Unlimited and both Budweiser Duel races. While the JGR cars had their moments at the front of the field during Sunday’s marathon, the biggest story to come out of Daytona was the spectacular drive that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had on Sunday night and the return of Earnhardt to Daytona’s hallowed victory lane for the second time in 10 years.

Earnhardt’s win is only fitting to start off a season that is sure to be a memorable one. The NASCAR brass has to be grinning from ear to ear after Sunday’s triumph by the No. 88 team. With the driver taking his second Daytona 500 win, even more eyes will be focused on the Sprint Cup Series to see if Earnhardt and NASCAR can continue the momentum that was gained by the sport’s most popular driver winning the sport’s biggest race to start off the new era that NASCAR is entering this season with the new win-based points system.

Daytona 500 winning crew chief Steve Letarte summed up what we can expect throughout the 2014 season, saying: “When they come out with this points system, we talked about it a lot, especially at Media Day. I don’t think it changes much before you win. I don’t think anybody can take any bigger chances we already take to try to win. I think once you have won one, it gives you an opportunity to really take borderline ridiculous chances. It really does. If there is a slim chance, that’s really all the chance you need. Now it’s easy to say you can run 20th and go for a win, where if you’re racing for the points, you can’t afford to give up 20 points.”

With wins becoming so much more important this season, drivers and crew chiefs alike are likely to take more chances to gain an all-important win and once they have one win to virtually lock themselves into the Chase, the teams can take even more risks and make more gambles to gain additional wins to get more bonus points once the Chase starts.

Under the new system, each and every race will be must-watch as the drivers and teams go all out to gain a win and make it into the Chase. One thing is for sure, there will be plenty of tempers flaring and bent sheet metal as the season goes along. Who will be standing as the Chase elite at the end of the 26 regular season races? We’ll have to tune in and find out.

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About David Morgan

David Morgan serves as the Associate Editor at Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@damorgan86). A native of Raymond, Mississippi, Morgan has covered NASCAR events all over the United States.

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