For much of the afternoon, the Daytona 500 resembled an extraordinarily fast, multicolored train. The high line at Daytona International Speedway worked the best, and the high line was where most drivers spent their day.
But you combine the newness of the Gen 6 cars and the vagaries of superspeedway racing, and you're in for some strangeness like we saw on Lap 33. Kasey Kahne got bumped from behind by Kyle Busch, turned inward, and the resulting wreck took out some of the biggest names in the sport.
Kevin Harvick had won both the Sprint Unlimited and his Duel, and was looking to be the first driver to sweep Speedweeks. Tony Stewart was coming off a victory in Saturday's DRIVE4COPD 400. Both were odds-on favorites to win the Daytona 500; for Harvick, it would be an effective way to demonstrate he'd be no lame duck in his final season at Richard Childress Racing. (The wreck also collected Juan Pablo Montoya. Insert requisite tired jet-dryer joke here.)
Even a last-place finish doesn't doom anyone's season hopes. But you'd at least like your best drivers to stay on track until the audience has finished its first beers.