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Dustin Off the Next Race: O’Reilly Auto Parts 253

Weren’t we just here?  I mean it was last Sunday that NASCAR was at Daytona, and saw another unexpected upset in the biggest event of the season, and now we’re back at the same track.

Well, originally, this venue was not supposed to have a double-dose of action for Speedweeks, at least when it came to points-paying races.  This year’s Speedweeks at Daytona got a bit of a twist, but not of their original doing.  With Auto Club Speedway being part of the restrictions in California to sporting competitions, which also included the 49ers, they could not have an event.  That not only means the next race in Fontana will be in 2022, but it will be on a much-different speedway layout.

How do they make it up…stay in Daytona, but add in some cones, turtles, and adjust the setups.

Once again, the Daytona Road Course gets to be front and center for the action, and after how this week has already gone with the Trucks and Xfinity events, anything is possible at Daytona for this go-around.

A truck race that went into many overtimes, and caused a rivalry to be at the forefront, then a stunning and very well-received Xfinity winner were just the beginning courses for what has proved to be an already unexpected season.  It was the unofficial start of the season that saw the track kick up a lot of dust, literally, and has since seen the track make sure that doesn’t happen, at least to the greatest extent that was seen on February 9.

One thing about these races now, especially with the new 2021 schedule, is road racing has become a top priority for everyone involved.  The years of a road course “ringer” or “specialist” have long since ended.

Truly there is no need for such a driver any longer.  The era of Scott Pruett, Boris Said, and Ron Fellows coming in for just one or two races in order to qualify a car, and in some instances nearly take a victory, have stopped since many of these drivers have learned to be strong road course racers.

Now, seven road courses have become part of the schedule.

From Daytona to the Charlotte Roval, then toss in the usual Sonoma and Watkins Glen.  But, now the Brickyard gets to be run on it’s infield course, just as F1 and Indy Car have done in recent memory.  Add in the new additions of Circuit of the Americas, and Road America, and what we have is just a hair under 25 percent of the schedule making turns in both directions.

Road courses will potentially bring out a few surprise winners, but it could also mean we once more could see the white-lettered tires become useful.

There have been puddles on the track for the entire weekend so far, but the rain tires have not been utilized at all in any series, but with some rain already this morning, they are on standby to be utilized if the need arises.

Daytona still has that magic to it, even if it’s not the Daytona 500.  But, it’s still the same venue, and someone is going to take the second win of the season.  Let’s dust off those wipers, brake lights, and those rain tires.  NASCAR is going road racing early in 2021.

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