Safer Barriers – I hate to even imagine how much worse the driver injuries would be if it wasn’t for the implementation of softer walls.
The Car of Tomorrow – For all the talk of less side by side racing and problems with drivability, these cars are very good in the safety department.
Tony Stewart – He was up front all night, made no mistakes, and had a pit crew that was on their game.
Denny Hamlin – If Tony wasn’t going to win this race, his old JGR teammate was.
Others – Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Marcos Ambrose
Juan Pablo Montoya – Does anyone even think of him as an open-wheeler anymore? He wrecked early, went a lap down, and still brought home a top 10.
Kyle Busch – He made smart moves all race, right up until that last block.
Others – Brian Vickers, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler
Kasey Kahne – He was involved in the Big One on lap 78 and would have finished top 10 if he hadn’t decided to give Kyle a push over the finish line.
AJ Allmendinger – Didn’t quite have the horsepower he wanted, but was looking at a strong finish until his old silver Red Bull car decided to get up close and personal. And he still made up 11 spots after pitting for repairs.
Others – Jamie McMurray, Regan Smith, David Ragan, Jeff Burton
Joey Logano – The rookie once again showed that he’s not scared of restrictor plate tracks, and that other drivers aren’t scared to draft with him.
Ryan Newman – Tony’s car wasn’t the only strong horse in the SHR stable. Ryan flexed some muscle before the Big One ruined his night.
Others – Greg Biffle, Bobby Labonte, Robby Gordon
Brad Keselowski – Another victim of the 13 car wreck on lap 78.
Kevin Harvick – If it wasn’t for bad luck, he would have no luck at all.
Others – Paul Menard, Martin Truex, Jr., John Andretti
Jeff Gordon – see Kevin Harvick above
Scott Speed – Theoretically I know that the 26 came up the track and pushed Scott into AJ, but I’m not quite ready to forgive and forget yet. And I doubt AJ is, either.
Others – Clint Bowyer, Tony Raines, Sam Hornish, Jr.
Casey Mears – If he had just held the brakes there at the end of his spin …
Michael Waltrip – Usually strong in restrictor plate races, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Others – Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, David Reutimann
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Friday night and Saturday night in Daytona were both ones that Junior probably wants to forget.
Start and parks – Dave Blaney, Patrick Carpentier, Joe Nemechek – I guess maybe it was worth not coming home on a wrecker. Still hate to see it.
Others – Mark Martin, David Gilliland