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Monday, February 19, 2007

A Pillow-Flattening Daytona 500

There’s a throw pillow on my couch that I call my “24” pillow. It’s got most of the stuffing flattened in it from where I’ve squeezed it so hard during “24.”

But after yesterday’s closing laps of the Daytona 500, it may not have anything left for tonight’s “24.”

Now, Daytona makes me nervous anyway, but that green-white-checkered finish was enough to make me go crazy because contrary to popular opinion, NASCAR fans do not want to see wrecks (especially at Daytona).

And I certainly didn’t want to see one yesterday, as it appeared that Mark Martin was headed to his first Daytona 500 win. I’m not a Mark Martin fan (Jeff Gordon is and always will be my guy.), but I really wanted to see him win, if for nothing else than for the “in-your-face” moment it would create for Jack Roush, who stupidly let Martin get away after 20 years.

But it was not meant to be, as we got one of the most exciting finishes in the race’s history as Kevin Harvick crossed the line just ahead of Martin.

However, for the record, I think NASCAR should have called a caution when the wreck occurred. Yes, the finish was exciting, but was it consistent with what NASCAR has done in the past? And as my dad said, it may have not hurt the top two, but what about all the guys who had to drive through the wreck just to finish?

Since I’m not the NASCAR blogger, that’s all I’m going to say about the race itself. You can read more on “At the Track.” My job is to talk about the TV aspect of it. And there’s plenty to say…

FOX’s direction was a gigantic improvement above last year’s as we rarely missed anything. Kudos to FOX for cutting into the commercial to show the Stewart-Busch aftermath, although someone should have told Chris Meyers his mike was open.

I still think that FOX’s crew is the best, but I wish that Darrell Waltrip would stop ignoring the elephant in the room and actually address the scandal that has engulfed his brother, Michael, instead of just saying “rules infraction.”

And speaking of Michael, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like everything he touches is a little tainted. Even his NAPA commercial just didn’t have that same zip. I like Dale Jarrett, but he’s no Dale Jr. as far as commercial sidekicks go. And the addition of Michael to the outstanding UPS series should have been a welcome one, but it just wasn’t.

Unfortunately, very few of the new commercials were as funny as last year’s, which is maybe why most companies just decided to go with their old funny commercials instead of making new ones. I liked the newest installments of the Denny Hamlin FedEx commercials and the Kasey Kahne Allstate commercials, though. It was funny to see Kasey actually cause the accident this time. And the NASCAR “see things differently” campaign was a good one. I especially liked the commercial where the guy only changed his left shoe (a la a left side tires only pit stop).

And that Goodwrench Dale Earnhardt commercial made you want to run out and get a #3 tattoo, didn’t it? I miss seeing Goodwrench on the track.

But without a doubt, the grand champion of the commercials was Dale Jr.’s Budweiser spot with the “crazy mutant desert guys” chasing him in the desert and the punchline of “Just because it says Bud on the car, doesn’t mean I have Bud in the car.” I also like Dale Jr.’s DirecTV spot, but we’d already seen that one in the Bud Shootout. Whether Teresa Earnhardt likes it or not, Dale Jr. is NASCAR’s version of Peyton Manning and that’s not going away any time soon.

It didn’t seem to hurt Peyton Manning any, now did it?

You can see all of the best Daytona spots at

Next week, it’s off to California! Welcome back, NASCAR. We’ve missed you…