It was all ‘Smoke’ at the 2012 Coke Zero 400

It was all ‘Smoke’ at the 2012 Coke Zero 400

We arrived at Daytona International Speedway just in time for the US national anthem.  When we looked for our seats, there was confusion because they weren’t at the location shown on the speedway’s website.  I checked and re-checked but we were assigned to the front row instead of higher up in the stand.  The good part is there was nothing but a fence and walkway separating us from the track.  The bad part is there was nothing but a fence and walkway separating us from the track.  That wall of wind I mentioned in my previous post was intensified and pushed me over a few times.  Despite that inconvenience, we settled in to enjoy the race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Pits

In honour of Trackside’s Danny Hammerdropper, “Go Dale!”

Unlike Friday night’s Subway Jalapeño 250, where the lead had been held by sixteen different drivers out of forty-three total.  The Coke Zero 400 was a more conventional NASCAR race where only nine had the honour of leading the pack.  Most of the action took place as drivers carefully manoeuvred in the middle.  However, it was nowhere near the level of action on Friday night.  That is of course, until about halfway through the race when all hell started to break loose.  It started out with individual mechanical problems and then quickly escalated into multiple car bust-ups.  There was even a collision in pit lane, which was right in front of us so we saw all the drama.  I decided to try supporting a particular driver and chose Clint Bowyer because he’s quite a character but the poor guy crashed out.

Stewart's Victory Lap

Stewart’s Victory Lap at Coke Zero 400 07-Jul-2012

Directly in our line of view was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s pit area.   He woke up the crowd by giving a push to his long-time pal Tony Stewart.  It was then we realised that amidst all the smoke from wiped-out stock cars, the man called Smoke had systematically clawed his way from the forty-second position all the way into the top three.  It was an amazing feat and I happily admit that he deserves every accolade.  After a stunning move at Turn 4, he snatched the lead from the Biffle/Kenseth partnership and tore towards the finish line.  As he raced towards his eighteenth victory at the DIS, the rest of the field fell into chaos with one final multiple-car crash and it was a doozy.  I missed the accident that took Jimmie Johnson out of the competition because there was a grilled chicken sandwich that needed my attention at the concession area.  However, the last lap mayhem happened pretty close by and we quickly found ourselves covered in a light layer of dusty asphalt.

The fireworks display started almost immediately and it was excellent.  All in all, the event was enjoyable and not a bad way to close out the year’s NASCAR races at the DIS.  I was also quite impressed with the free Park and Ride service.  Unfortunately, it took us a much longer time to get back to the parking lot, than it did for us to arrive at the speedway.  Yet, the buses came and went like clockwork.  Before long, we were in the car headed home.  I was quite worn out from all the excitement.  As much as we had fun, I’m glad that it’s over and life can get back to something resembling normal.  I’d be glad to go to the Speedway again because I love that place but for now, I’m happy to watch those speed demons duke it out from the comfort of my bed and preferably in my pajamas.