Hot or Not: Daytona 500

Whoa, that was a long race. But after more than 6 hours, the first Daytona 500 of the decade is finally in the books. So who had the endurance to close the deal, and who came up short? We’ve got you covered!

Hot: Jamie McMurray.Can you believe this guy? When 2010 kicked off, Mac’s homecoming couldn’t have looked much worse. But after his strong showing in the Shootout, followed by his very emotional win in the Great American Race, the Earnhardt-Ganassi team looks like a bunch of geniuses for bringing him back.

Not: Richard Petty Motorsports. The move to Ford was a good thing. But three wrecked race cars are not. Kahne, Sadler, and Allmendinger were all fast; perhaps fast enough to win the race. But when Daytona reared its ugly head, this team was its main victim.

Hot: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Maybe surviving his flip on Saturday gave Junior a little extra confidence. Or maybe flipping over knocked some sense into him. Whatever it was, Little E demonstrated that he can flat-out drive a race car, moving from 10th to 2nd on the final lap.

Not: Jimmie Johnson. You’ve won 4 consecutive championships, so how do you kick off your Drive for Five? If you’re Jimmie Johnson, you inherit Dale Jr’s 2009 equipment.

Hot: Greg Biffle. The Biff was up front all day/night long. Heck, the guy even led with half-a-lap to go. But even though he didn’t win the race, Biffle showed that he will be a force to reckon with in 2010.

Not: Penske Racing. Kurt Busch crashed two cars during the Shootout weekend. On Saturday, Brad Keselowski wrecked his Nationwide car on the final lap. And on Sunday, BK and Sam Hornish Jr. tore up their cars on the 4th lap of the race. Do you think Mr. Penske is ready to get out of Daytona?

Hot: Clint Bowyer. Though he didn’t win, Bowyer does have one thing to be proud of: He held the longest lead of the day at 1 hour, 41 minutes. Oh yeah, and he finished 4th. Not a bad day.

Not: Ryan Newman. Back so soon, Mr. Newman? It was the same song, second verse this week for The Rocketman. Newman wasn’t impressive while he was in the race, and then he crashed out. Remind you of the Shootout, by chance?

Hot: Kevin Harvick. Harvick probably isn’t very happy right now, but he was the fastest man in Daytona, according to Darrell Waltrip. I guess if you leave the place with a Shootout trophy and a top 10 in the 500, you can’t complain too much.

Not: The France Family. NASCAR finally lifted the restrictions on what drivers could and couldn’t do. It was going to be the most memorable Daytona 500 ever because of all the excitement. Instead, it will forever be remembered as the Daytona 500 in which the France’s prized facility couldn’t stay in one piece. Oh well, there’s always next year…

Tags: Clint Bowyer Dale Earnhardt Jr Daytona 500 Greg Biffle Hot Or Not Jamie McMurray Jimmie Johnson Kevin Harvick Penske Racing Richard Petty Motorsports Ryan Newman The France Family

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