Catching our breath before it resumes

Random ruminations while at recess from racing:

• Let me get this straight: Teams worked on their Daytona cars for months, brought them down in January to test, some went back and built new ones all the while carefully crafting a cooling system that would stand the rigors of this type of racing. Now, at the 11th hour, NASCAR tells the teams, “Hey, sorry, but we don’t like that kind of draft (and we really need some big ratings for this race), so you guys are gonna have to take your stuff back to Charlotte and do it another way.”

What a colossal freakin’ waste of money.

• I think this grill/relief valve change is going to favor your smarter drivers. Think about what’s going on now: The drafting — which seemed to be taking more focus in the first place — will likely still be as intense, but now the guy behind the wheel has to keep a close eye on the temperature gauge. A driver who fails to do so opens himself up to a catastrophic engine failure.

Seriously, the guys that can process the most at once will be your favorites. And you know who’s proven to be able to process more and at a quicker rate then anyone I’ve ever seen? Mr. Five Time.

• Of course, the aforementioned scenario is null and void if NASCAR throws Curveball No. 3 of the Speedweeks and adjusts the plates. And I guarantee that happens. NASCAR wants the 30-car packs — it’s called white-knuckle racing, and it helps ratings.

• OK, so enough with hypothetics and conjecture … Counting Sunday’s qualifying session, Hendrick and Earnhardt-Childress Racing engines have claimed 16 of the 18 spots on the front row in restrictor plate races since the start of the 2009 season. Of the eight races completed, the ECR alliance has five wins, while Hendrick horsepower has two and Roush-Yates one. The catch? The two HMS wins have come from the satellite operations of Stewart-Haas Racing and Phoenix Racing.

• Yes, I know ‘hypothetics’ is not a word. This is a blog, so I’m told I can chillax some. Don’t get flusterpated.

• After having to endure a racecar being on at least one of our television sets at all times over the last 72 hours, Sunday night’s Grammy’s were like an all-expense paid vacation out of a carbureted hell for my wife.

I can’t blame her. After all, watching three solid hours of qualifying practice sessions means you’re: A.) Extremely bored, B.) About to be extremely bored or C.) Totally jonesin’ after a couple months away from the scene.

I was two for three. She was 0-fer.

• Is Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the pole on the 10th anniversary of his father’s tragic death at Daytona really that special? I’m not trying to be callus, but Junior is one of the better plate racers of the last decade and now paired with the most dominant team over the same span. To throw around terms like “storybook” or call on the “ghost of Dale Earnhardt” as I’ve seen over the last two days is just being too over-damn-dramatic.

Win the 500 and we got ourselves a nice story. Until then, let’s keep things in perspective.

• Monday and Tuesday of Daytona race week are like the days between a first and second date. The first date got you all hot ’n’ bothered and now you can’t quite thinking about whether the second truly delivers.

• Jamie McMurray was asked last weekend why he’s had such success at the plate tracks over the last couple years. In his response, he eluded to the fact that he doesn’t leave competitors high and dry over the course of the day. In short, his fellow drivers know they can trust him, and show the same respect in return.

Seems to me this year’s 500 is going to take a lot more trust among drivers — particularly drivers that are not teammates — than in any year I can remember. Think about that when drafting the ol’ fantasy squad.

• Speaking of fantasy racing, the guys in the office here at Athlon Sports held our annual NASCAR fantasy draft last week. Serpentine draft, eight teams, four drivers per team, keep them for the season (unless a trade can be worked out or an add/drop made). The results:

Round 1: 1. JJ; 2. Cousin Carl; 3. Hamlin; 4. Rowdy; 5. Smoke; 6. Super G; 7. Kenseth; 8. Bowyer

Round 2: 9. Sliced Bread; 10. Harvick (steal of the draft for a second year in a row); 11. The Biff; 12. Ward’s brother; 13. Kurt Busch; 14. The Kid; 15. Kasey Kahne; 16. JPM

Round 3: 17. Junior; 18. Jamie Mac; 19. Vickers; 20. Newman; 21. Truex; 22. Kes; 23. The Franchise; 24. ’Dinger

Round 4: 25. Menard; 26. Ambrose; 27. Ragan; 28. Regan “The Flying Ottoman” Smith; 29. Gilliland; 30. BLab; 31. Trevor Bayne; 32. Robby Gordon

Do with that what you will. Just thought someone would find it handy.

<p> Random ruminations while at recess from the racing.</p>
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