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Toby's Take: Fans Showed Out at Daytona; Hendrick Reigns Supreme; Fuel Mileage Racing at Daytona is Weird

The 66th annual Daytona 500 is in the books, and despite the heavy weather delay, fans showed up in droves and the event went off without a hitch on Monday. This week, Toby's Take breaks down the impressive showing by the fans, Hendrick snagging another big win, fuel mileage, and more.


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Well, it may have been a soggy weekend, but the 66th annual Daytona 500 is in the books. While William Byron officially etched his name on the Harley J. Earl trophy as Daytona 500 winner for the first time, many storylines deserve a little bit of an extra look following a great Week at the beach.

The Weather Couldn't Stop the Fans From Showing up on Monday

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

It was incredible to see NASCAR fans were not deterred in the slightest by The Great American Race being delayed by weather until Monday at 4:00 PM ET. Not only did fans begin filing into Daytona International Speedway in droves once the gates opened on Monday at 10:00 AM ET, but you'd be hard-pressed to determine that the race was being held on a Monday if you looked at the grandstands.

The place was PACKED, and the fans brought incredible energy. Despite the race being rained out on Sunday, it still felt like the traditional Daytona 500 experience on Monday.

And kudos to Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson for sticking around to perform his Grand Marshal duties. Having one of the most electrifying men in sports entertainment history on the grounds did nothing but add buzz to an already buzz-worthy event.

Fuel Mileage Racing at Superspeedways, Just Ain't it

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

While the race was decided by a crash at the finish line just after William Byron took the white flag, the action throughout a large portion of the Daytona 500 was neutered, according to the drivers. While it didn't look noticeably different, due to drivers not forming a single-file line, the race was basically a contest of who could save the most fuel for 80% of the race.

Hell, in the opening stage of the race, the monster front pack was running lap times significantly slower than what AJ Allmendinger was running while pacing laps on the track by himself. It was really bizarre.

But why were they saving so much fuel?

The point of saving fuel, which has been a growing trend at the superspeedway events, is to help teams have a quicker green flag pit stop before the end of the stage or the end of the overall race. A quicker pit stop, even if it's by a few tenths of a second, means better track position.

While the strategy put drivers and teams in positions for wins in Stages 1 and 2, and the overall race win, the strategic riding around in Monday's race frustrated a number of drivers in the field.

“It’s frustrating, I don’t know how to fix it," Erik Jones said after his eighth-place finish. "It’s really hurt the racing for sure at these tracks. It’s a 480-mile fuel-saving race and a 20-mile sprint of chaos to the finish. I wish we could race more during the day.”

While Jones didn't have an idea of how to fix the issue, it's blatantly obvious that something needs to be addressed at the Superspeedways. Fortunately, when they weren't riding around, the action on the track was pretty intense.

Another Feather in the Cap for Hendrick Motorsports

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

Hendrick Motorsports, the most successful team in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series, added yet another major win on Monday night as William Byron took the checkered flag ahead of Alex Bowman in a 1-2 finish for the race team, which was founded in 1984.

Monday's race marked the ninth Daytona 500 win for Hendrick Motorsports, which now has 302 NASCAR Cup Series points-paying wins, the most all-time. And with William Byron emerging as a legitimate superstar over the last couple of seasons, it looks like the team has yet another driver capable of piling on accolades for years to come.

Byron had two wins over his first four seasons in NASCAR Cup Series competition (144 races). Over his last 73 races, Byron has racked up an impressive nine wins, including Monday's win in the biggest race of them all, the Daytona 500. While Hendrick Motorsports being a force in 2024 was never really a question, the organization got off to a fast start at Daytona.

Corey LaJoie Carrying Momentum into Site of Near Win

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

As we head into Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend, Corey LaJoie has to be on the minds of everyone. The driver of the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro nearly won the fall race at Atlanta back in 2022. However, after leading 19 laps, LaJoie was swept up in a last-lap crash while battling Chase Elliott for the race win.

Even with the disappointing finish in that race, LaJoie's record at the new superspeedway-style Atlanta Motor Speedway has been impeccable. Two of his four-career top-five finishes have come at Atlanta over the last couple of seasons. After a solid fourth-place outing in the season-opening Daytona 500, expect LaJoie to come out swinging in Hampton, Georgia as he looks to turn pennies into stacks of cash with his first career win.

It just feels like the right time.

Bump Drafting Has Become a Real Problem

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

While Ryan Blaney was a victim of incidents involving bad bump drafts multiple times this past week at Daytona, and in recent races at superspeedways before this weekend, after a crash that ended his chance at a win in the Daytona 500 he said he doesn't feel that NASCAR needs to regulate bump drafting in the NASCAR Cup Series. Blaney feels it would just create a bunch of judgment calls, which never turn out smoothly.

He's not wrong, but it's apparent that if NASCAR isn't to make a change, the drivers need to come to some sort of an agreement about aggressive bumps at Daytona and Talladega.

Blaney took a hit that registered 55 gs in Thursday's Duels after Brad Keselowski executed a poorly timed bump draft on Kyle Busch, which led to William Byron getting turned into Blaney's right-rear, which sent Blaney head-first into the outside wall. Last August, Blaney took a similar hit, which registered 70 gs.

Those types of hits will eventually take their toll on Blaney, or anyone that experiences them.

In the Daytona 500, a 23-car melee ensued when William Byron received a bump draft from his teammate Alex Bowman, which sent Byron into Keselowski. That crash dashed the hopes for Keselowski, and the race's dominant driver -- Joey Logano.

With the number of g-forces being generated in crashes involving bad bump drafts, the drivers need to figure something out before someone is seriously hurt. But until they do, we're probably going to keep seeing incidents like the ones we saw this week at Daytona International Speedway.

Featured Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

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