Could the finish in the Coke Zero 400 have been any more thrilling?
It's not that we should enjoy watching cars crash, and no one wants a driver to get hurt in a race, but that bumper-to-bumper, door-to-door trading-paint charge toward the finish line is what makes NASCAR fun to watch.
As fantastic finishes often are, the final seconds were debatable: was Tony Stewart justified in spinning out Kyle Busch en route to the checkered flag? Did Busch try to make the final block too late, after Stewart had already gained position, or was Stewart acting irresponsibly? Analysts could discuss it for hours, and undoubtedly, each fan's personal feelings toward two of NASCAR's notorious "bad boys" will play a part in each opinion. It's interesting to note that Busch and Stewart used to be teammates under owner Joe Gibbs. They probably won't be having coffee together anytime soon.
Judgment over the outcome of the race and which driver was right or wrong aside, finishes like that keep NASCAR interesting. It makes for great water cooler talk on Monday, and could draw the interest of even the non-racing fan.
Not to mention the fact that it was an exciting finish to an All-American evening of stock car racing.
Daytona under the lights in July is one of the great spectacles in sport. From the patriotic pre-race ceremonies, including the gigantic, waving stars and stripes, to the fantastic finish under flickering flashes of cameras in the stands, to the fireworks that light up the post-race sky, Daytona knows how to do it right.
The home of the Great American Race makes the July event almost as enticing as the February kick-off to the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, though nothing can truly compare to the Daytona 500 and the events surrounding Speedweeks.
Race for the Chase the July Daytona event mean even more than it once did, as we watch drivers jockey for position and try to secure their spot in the ten-race sprint to the Cup title. Just eight weekends of racing remain before the top twelve get their shot at NASCAR history.
He may be a former Cup Champion, but Tony Stewart's success this season is remarkable, considering it's his first year with a new team. Expectations within the team were obviously much higher than from the outside looking in and Stewart-Haas racing has gotten the attention of the racing world. They didn't bother with a building or re-building year: both Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman are poised to make the Chase, proving that a driver-owner can be successful in this mega-team era.
Hendrick Motorsports is still the team to beat, with three-time defending champion, Jimmie Johnson and teammate Jeff Gordon hot on Stewart's heels, and Mark Martin on the bubble in the Chase standings. Now if only Dale Earnhardt Jr. could make an 11th-hour charge up the standings, the fan favorite could silence his critics and prove he deserves more than the popularity prize.
Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.