A Day in the Life of a Daytona Fan
Who knew that AlyGirlRockz16, smiley face lover and first-comment-congratulator, was such a big Nascar fan? Thanks for edumacating us, Aly! (And Aly would like to pass along her own thanks to Synchrogirl, ProposeWithOreos, aaaaaaand her parents.) —SparkNotes editors
START YOUR ENGINES! The Daytona 500 is this Sunday, February 14. Here's a little preview of what will happen, should you choose to watch the race:
You're geared up. You have the world’s largest supply of popcorn in your lap, and you're prepared for the racing equivalent of the Super Bowl, the Masters, and the World Series. Your family told at least 20 times that you have to calm down, but you can’t, because this is the moment you've been waiting for all year: the start of the race.
The camera swoops down on beautiful Daytona, Florida, where the race is located, and you see plenty of palm trees and fans. After the National Anthem during the opening ceremony, the racers get into their cars. You see the 2009 Daytona 500 defending winner Matt Kenseth (car #14) climb into his car. You faint from excitement. When you come to, you hear the famous command: “Drivers, start your engines!” The crowd stands and explodes with energy. There’s something magical about the pre-race atmosphere.
All contestants follow a really expensive-looking pace car for the warm-up lap. There are 43 cars on the track, all of which have qualified for the race. The top 35 cars from the last season have a free pass to the Daytona because of the points they’ve won. The last seven racers raced at the Gatorade duals to earn their spots at Daytona.
After the warm-up, you hear “Boogedy, booggety, boggety! Let's go, racing boys!” from Darrel Waltrip (one of the race commentators and a former racer himself). Then, “Green flag, green flag on the 52nd Daytona 500!,” and the race is on. You are about to endure 500 miles, or several hours, of sitting, watching, screaming in happiness, and yelling at the dog in frustration while the race is on.
Eventually the drivers take a pit stop. You think a commercial break is coming. Nope! Pit Lane is actually like a race itself. A regular pit stop takes about 15 seconds, but the length of the stop depends on what is needed and what condition the car is in. There is strategy involved in a perfect pit stop.
Suddenly BAM!!! CRASH!! The commentators shout, “There's been a collision on turn three!!" One car slams into a wall, and three others slide around in the grass. A car is on fire, but the racer escapes unscathed. The commentators replay the crash and you remember that this is a dangerous sport. People can get hurt; legendary racer Dale Earnhardt crashed and perished in the last lap at the 2001 Daytona 500. Racers whose cars are damaged beyond repair are classified as a DNF: "Did not finish."
The racers create alliances, drafting each other in order to save gas and go faster. They take chances on the pit road to further their position in the pack. They make sure the steering's not too tight or too loose around the turns. It’s all about strategy and trying to last as long as you can in the race.
There goes the white flag. One lap remains in the Daytona 500. At this point, it’s every driver for himself. No time to be an ally when you can win. Finally! The winner tears over the finish line!!! You jump up and do the running man to celebrate. You have seen spinouts and crashes, several cautions and green flags, and many, many laps.
Are you looking forward to the Great American Race? Or will you nap instead?
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