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Dale Jr.'s Daytona 500 Win Seen As Big Boost For NASCAR As '14 Season Begins
Published February 24, 2014
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SETTING THE PACE: In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes NASCAR "could not have had a better start" to the '14 season. With "late pushes" from teammates Johnson and Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt "clung to the front and won the thrilling, thrilling, and bizarre, bizarre, race." Sorensen: "The almost-24 Hours at Daytona ended with by far the sport’s most popular driver winning what it is by far the sport’s biggest race" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/24). In K.C., Randy Covitz writes Earnhardt "couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time to win his second Daytona 500." The win "virtually guarantees Earnhardt, NASCAR’s most popular driver for the last 11 years, a spot in the expanded 16-driver field in the revamped Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs at the end of the season." Earnhardt asked, "Am I in the Chase? We don’t have to worry about that now?” (K.C. STAR, 2/24). Earnhardt said, "If everyone is telling the truth, then I don’t got to worry (about making the Chase). But we’re going for the jugular this year" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/24).
CHANGING THINGS UP: USA TODAY's Jeff Gluck writes NASCAR's changes to the Chase format in some ways "are gimmicks." But sports are "supposed to be entertainment, so what's wrong with trying to make the competition more entertaining?" A one-race championship format "might be the most extreme yet -- although whether fans love it or hate it, they'll probably make sure to watch" (USA TODAY, 2/24).