When the racing stopped in Daytona Beach, FL on Sunday night, the top two spots were lit up with the numbers 3 and 43. Austin Dillon crossed the start/finish line first, followed by rookie Darrell Wallace Jr., winning the Daytona 500.
The iconic cars draped with the same numbers as two greats, Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty, finished one-two filled with very likable young guns. In fact, the cars still feature the same number fonts that Sr. and Petty raced during their careers.
Sunday’s Daytona 500 brought a little past into the Present, Shaping NASCAR’s future
After the race, Dillon spun in the grass, just like Earnhardt did in his one and only Daytona 500 victory, to show respect for him. He then did his own signature celebration, along with his pit crew, sliding face first in the infield.
Wallace Jr., or rather Bubba as he’s called around the track, gave a great quote on Adderall during a post-race interview, referencing a debate around NASCAR heading into the weekend.
— Chris Knight ツ (@Knighter01) February 18, 2018
Wallace Jr.’s Mom also came into the media center to give her son a hug during another interview. Wallace Jr. got choked up and provided a really emotional scene. The post-race was almost as eventful as the actual event, for the casual fan.
The Young Guns
The entire day represented the future of NASCAR, or rather the present.
Drivers like Dillon and Wallace Jr. provide the sport with a young flair that it has been missing for years, and their success in the 500 can only help the series to be more successful.
Young guns filled the race, which was sold out by the way, and new names driving well-known cars are starting to come to the forefront of NASCAR.
To add to Dillon and Wallace Jr., Chase Elliott built his fan base from racing the 24 over the last two years, and some drivers believe he is the favorite to win this year’s most popular driver award.
When Alex Bowman took the lead on Sunday, the entire grandstand stood up, cheering for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s no. 88.
The 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion William Byron has seen a rise in popularity since Hendrick Motorsports announced he would be taking over Jeff Gordon’s old car.
Even Ryan Blaney made a name for himself driving the Wood Brothers 21. In fact, he made such an impact that Penske brought a third car into the rotation for him.
The reason the younger drivers were a big story line on Sunday and will be for the rest of the year was because of the spark they bring.
That’s what NASCAR should and hopefully will build off of this season. Sunday’s race was just the first glimpse we’ve caught.
Don’t think it will stop there.
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