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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his first Daytona 500, and that’s cool. It was also the longest Daytona 500 in NASCAR history, and that’s a neat stat, too.
But, boy … did it ever feel like the longest 500 ever. And, man … couldn’t it have been just a little longer seeing as it’s the most-hyped, most-watched, most-attended race of your season?
Seems like a swing and miss to have that bad boy end under caution.
More of my bitching in a bit, but I don’t want to be all negative today. After all, NASCAR is back for pretty much the rest of the calendar year, and that’s never a bad thing!
And hey, we’ve got a waffle-sized show for you today! I don’t know what that means, but you’ll get it in a second.
The girls of Daytona were out in full force at the sport’s biggest race, Ryan Blaney was NOT happy with dumb AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson forgot his clothes for the race (video proof!), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – your Daytona 500 champ – celebrated at a Waffle House.
I love this country.
Four tires, a splash of fuel and a couple cheesy eggs with hashbrowns, Monday Morning Pit-Stop – the ‘That Daytona 500 Kinda Sucked But We’re Not Gonna Harp On It Too Much’ edition – is LIVE!
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. celebrates Daytona 500 at Waffle House
Clearly, Trevor Lawrence has started a trend that I’m more than thrilled see carry over into NASCAR.
Lawrence, if you remember, hit up a Duval Waffle House after last month’s playoff win, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. followed suit early Monday morning.
Now, I will say, this ain’t the first time a 500 champ has hit up a local diner in the wee hours of the next morning. There’s a Steak & Shake about two miles from the track that’s seen more Harley J. Earl trophies than Richard Petty.
That being said, it’s also fun to watch a clearly tanked Daytona 500 champ stumble into a local eatery at 3 a.m. with the giant trophy and see what happens.
“Hello … we’re hungry,” from a wide-eyed Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after hours of drinking and celebrating is perfect.
Great reaction from the cooks, too, when they realize who it is. “We have a winner?!”
Pure joy. Love it. Frankly, those 26 seconds were more fun than most of the race. Which, unfortunately, brings me to my next point …
That Daytona 500 stunk, and we got screwed at the end
I’m sorry, but I’m nothing if not honest. And I’ve gotta be honest with everyone here – that 500 was a dud.
I’ve covered this thing every year since 2017 – which isn’t saying much, I know – and Sunday’s race was by far the least memorable. No real big wrecks, no photo finish at the stripe, and I know they tell us there were a lot of lead changes, but it certainly didn’t feel like it.
And then, even after all that, it still had a chance to turn things around in the end when we got not one, but two NASCAR overtimes. That means two chances to bunch the field back up, two more restarts, and two more sprints to the finish.
And then literally seconds after Stenhouse Jr. made the pass for the lead coming to the white flag, Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski slammed into the wall and the race was over. Just like that. With basically a full lap to go.
I know those are the rules, and I know we all bitched about the old rules because the races just dragged and dragged, but it sort of feels like the Daytona 500 should have its own set of rules, right?
I don’t know, it just felt sort of Super Bowl-ish with the BS holding call at the end. Didn’t like that game ending on that call, and didn’t like this race ending with the pace car in front.
Whatever, though. I still had a great weekend surrounded by enough Busch Light to make your heads spin. Can’t complain too much!
Ryan Blaney rips AJ Allmendinger for being stupid
I know I didn’t just give the greatest review of the race, but we did get some drama! And hey, thanks to Ryan Blaney, we got our first radio insult of the 2023 season!
For those who missed it, Allmendinger was basically in danger of going a lap down when the field caught him late in the first stage, and tried to do everything he could to stay in front of the leader.
It’s not a terrible idea at a normal NASCAR track because making up a lap can be hard, but not at Daytona or Talladega. You can make up a lap pretty easily at these races because, frankly, you don’t have to pit when the leaders do and still get away with slightly older tires.
Anyway, Allmendinger didn’t make any friends Sunday, but, frankly, who cares? He’s married to a former Miss North Carolina and Blaney’s been with Hooter’s waitress Gianna Tulio forever.
I think they’ll both survive.
And speaking of dimes, how about Blaney somehow finishing EIGHTH in this bad boy? And you wonder why they call the Daytona 500 a wild card.
Kyle Busch goes out guns blazing in NASCAR RCR debut
I know, cheap shot at Kyle. I don’t care what you say, though, Kyle Busch being detained in a Mexican airport for ‘forgetting he had a gun in his carry-on’ will never not be funny. Sorry.
Anyway. Rowdy had one of the better cars Sunday in his official RCR debut, and looked like he was actually gonna win with about three laps to go as he led the field with teammate Austin Dillon on his bumper.
Not a bad spot to be in!
And then, of course, we had a pretty weak single-car spin behind him that brought out the yellow. In predictable fashion, both Busch and Dillon wrecked in the next overtime and lost.
Rowdy, of course, handled it like the champ he is.
“Used to it,” he said after the race from the infield care center. “Used to coming down here every year and seeing when and where I’m gonna crash and what lap I’m gonna come out of the infield care center.”
PS: guess who watched the restart of the first overtime with Austin Dillon’s mom from the top of an infield garage? True story.
She was a nervous wreck, and, unfortunately, Dillon soon wrecked. Tough break, Austin Dillon’s mom. Loved your jean jacket with “Dillon” along the back in silver glitter, though.
Mom’s are the best.
Jimmie Johnson has wardrobe malfunction on Daytona pit-road
Two more quickies on our way out (ain’t the first time you’ve heard that I reckon!).
First, Jimmie Johnson made his triumphant return to NASCAR this weekend and promptly ran in the top-10 late Sunday before being swept up in one of the wrecks. Oh well. Jimmie was still pretty fast, didn’t look out of place, and was among the leaders at the end of the race.
Can’t ask for much more than that!
Of course, little do you peasants know that Jimmie Johnson spent some harrowing minutes before the race quickly changing inside the back of a truck on pit road after driver intros because he apparently forgot to put on part of his race day outfit.
Luckily, yours truly was on the scene and at the ready.
That video, by the way, came after Jimmie sat in the back of that truck behind him for a solid minute changing clothes faster than a college kid.
Don’t know what ‘ol seven-time forgot to put on yesterday morning, but glad he’s back in the garage this season.
NASCAR girls show up and show out at Daytona 500
Finally, on our way out …
I know I complained about the race earlier, and I still feel that way all these words later. It wasn’t great, and I’m not sure anyone would disagree with me.
That being said, the Daytona 500 is still the Great American Race and it’s an amazing spectacle each and every year. Amazing the sights and sounds you see and hear when you pack over 100,000 people into a single space.
The Busch Light was flowing, the American flags were flying, the ‘Raise Hell, Praise Dale’ shirts were electric, and, of course, the other scenery wasn’t bad, either.
Here are some of the best images from the weekend, with some even taken from yours truly!
Welcome back, NASCAR. I missed you.