COLUMN: Long odds are sweet to beat
A good day for a good guy
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Daytona 500 is probably going to be a bit less frenetic than the Budweiser Shootout and a tad less tame than Thursday’s Gatorade Duel.
The Duel is actually a pair, but God forbid that we should depart from the carefully crafted corporate title that is undoubtedly descended from an advertising agency and a branding survey. The matter of the Duel being dual is, oh, about as compelling as having them at all.
But don’t tell that to Dave Blaney, who made the Daytona 500 by minding his P’s and Q’s, eating his vegetables and not hanging out with the wrong people. Thursday is prone to sentimentality at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks. NASCAR has some good guys but none better than Blaney, who put up a brave front after taking on long odds so that owner Tommy Baldwin’s points could assure Danica Patrick a spot in Sunday’s race.
(No, Patrick isn’t driving one of the team’s Chevys, and, no, it doesn’t make any more sense than making gravy out of peanut butter, but it’s just too complicated to explain over and over. It’s why NASCAR originally drafted the nonsensical “It is what it is.”)
Blaney made the 500 anyway, and that’s probably about as big a story that he’s going to be all year.
He was all smiles, and when someone mentioned the essential unfairness of the whole situation, Blaney said, “I’m just happy we made it.
“I felt like we had the team and the car to make it the whole time,” he added, “I wasn’t worried about that side of it, but when you can’t make it on qualifying day, anything can happen. You can have a flat tire. … I was worried about that side of it more than anything else.
“I don’t care about the point thing. We’ll go try to make the races every week. That’s what we’ll do.”
The two who made it from the latter race, Blaney and Joe Nemechek, have both seen better times. Nemechek has four career victories. Blaney’s won a couple poles.
They’re old school, but, as Blaney asked, “Old school doesn’t mean much anymore, does it?”
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton