Coke Zero Sugar 400 lived up to its billing on Saturday night

When it was first announced that the NASCAR Cup Series would move the annual July date to Daytona back a month, I’ll admit I wasn’t too thrilled about that. Yes, on one hand the thought of a regular season finale under the lights on a superspeedway seemed thrilling. But, on the other the tradition aspect felt jaded.

Selfishly, we treated the annual Fourth Of July date as a good family vacation. For years I’d watch that race from the grandstands. Then, I moved to the press box to cover it once my professional career kick started.

So, a late August race would mean no more family time. Kids are back in school in Indiana. Same for thousands of other fans. That race brought in tons of out of state folks. Now that it’s where it is on the schedule, it’s would move to more of a local crowd.

Plus, 61 years of tradition was gone.

Now that the new date is behind us, I’ll eat crow. I’ll take it medium well.

Saturday nights race lived up to the new found hype. We saw thrilling action all the way through. 34 lead changes among 16 drivers. Just six cautions for 21 laps. Only 23 cars collected in crashes. Very unDaytona like.

Typically this race is a crash fest early and often. Saturday nights race was more intense than I’ve ever see this event and it was mostly clean too. It took until Lap 153 for our first big crash in fact. It’s not like it was exactly tame before either. I don’t know how they didn’t wad up more cars with how aggressive this race was to be honest.

This race was one of the best of the season so far and it’s because of its place on the schedule. It was everything and more that it was supposed to be.

Now, we head to the playoffs with some big momentum.

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