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Reviewing the Daytona 500: 3 Things We Learned

Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane after winning the 2016 Daytona 500
Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane after winning the 2016 Daytona 500

Yesterday's Daytona 500 was an amazing one!  With good racing, a few cautions, and a photo finish, this years 'Great American Race' was one for the books.  I want to congratulate Denny Hamlin on winning his first Daytona 500; he sure earned it with his gutsy move on the last lap.  With that behind us, let's get into the purpose of this post, three things we learned during the Daytona 500.

1. Joe Gibbs Racing means business.

If you think Hendrick or Penske are the top teams in NASCAR, you may want to think again.  After securing their first championship since 2005 (Tony Stewart), Joe Gibbs Racing picked up right where they left off.  Not only did Denny Hamlin score Toyota's first Daytona 500 win, but JGR took complete control of the field in the closing laps.  At one point, 4 of the top-6 cars were JGR cars, with a fifth being the #78 car of Martin Truex Jr., who basically runs a Gibbs car.  Another scary factor to consider is that JGR is not known for their restrictor plate program, so just imagine what they can do else where.   At the end of the day, 4 out of the final top-5 were Gibbs or Gibbs related cars, and Kenseth who finished 14th was leading in turn 3.  I guess you can say we have all been warned.

2. Furniture Row Racing has speed.

The #78 team has speed... point, blank, period.  This past weekend was all about restrictor plates, but Furniture Row Racing has proven to me they can compete.  Atlanta will be the true sign of who's up to speed and who's not, but the #78 team was competing with the best of them in yesterday's 500-miler.  My predictions for the season stated that this team will not win a race, and I won't go back on my word, but they're fast.  Of course, the team will need to show they can run up front on the 'cookie cutter' tracks in the coming months, but with a JGR package under them, it looks like Truex may be able to better his performance from last season.

Denny Hamlin (#11) wins the Daytona 500 by 0.010 seconds over Martin Truex Jr. (#78)

3. The Daytona 500 is back!

Not every fan was satisfied on Sunday, especially with no big one and Dale Jr. crashing early, but this years Daytona 500 was solid.  Maybe it was just me, but I felt the excitement of this years race, something I haven't felt in years.  In the past, I have talked about how the Daytona 500 has lost it's importance, but the build up worked well this season.  NASCAR could do more to enhance fan excitement, but yesterday was a good start.  Of course, the closest Daytona 500 finish in history also improved the quality of the race.  The racing was competitive, the facility was better, and the finish was amazing.  Honestly, the improvement to the speedway and marketing of the race itself led to a great showing for fans across the globe.

Well, thanks for reading!!! As always comment your feelings and opinions below!  Also, follow me on Twitter at @nascar_opinion for NASCAR news and opinions!!!  Hope you enjoyed this years Daytona 500, and are ready for one of the best seasons in NASCAR history!! Have a great rest of your day!


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