Racing exciting again at Daytona with packs

DAYTONA BEACH -- Pack racing is back at Daytona International Speedway. No more of the boring two-car tendems that looked like a bunch of mini trains wheelin' around the track. And boy was it a welcome site here at Daytona International Speedway for Saturday's running of the Budweiser Shootout.

I have been going to Daytona since the mid-1990s and seeing the retiurn of pack racing was exciting and, of course, breath taking with the big wrecks that come with it. The scariest in the 2012 shootout was Jeff Gordon barrell rolling off turn 4 on lap 55 and his No. 24 DuPont Chevy sliding down the track on its roof. It reminded me of 1997's Daytona 500 where the late Dale Earnhardt found himself in a similar situation.

Earnhardt walked away from that one only to lose his life four years later on turn 4 of the final lap when he slammed into the wall. And like Earnhardt's violent crash of 1997, Gordon's was violent, but, he, too, walked away injury free. Thank God.

I love NASCAR racing and I'll explain why as we get closer to the Daytona 500 next weekend.

One driver in particular excited about the return to pack racing at the track following the shootout was defending Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart, who said: "I had fun racing at Daytona again, which I haven't had for a while. This is better than having to sit there and stare at the back of a spoiler for 500 miles."

Amen to that.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Headline Surfer® Publisher Henry Frederick, is recognized as one of Florida's top award-winning cops & courts reporters, who has received more awards for such coverage than any other reporter working in Central Florida. He's the top journalist in the Florida Press Club two years running with seven journalism awards for 15 breaking news and investigative stories, three blogs and top internet site. He's the only reporter to win awards for coverage of the Trayvon Martin slaying as well as the subsequent George Zimmerman murder trial acquittal in Sanford. He's also won state, regional and national journalism awards for his coverage of cops and courts fear 8 1/2 years at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where he witnessed and reported on the execution of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and covered the civil trial brought by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt's widow to keep his autopsy files sealed. Before that before he covered cops & courts for Gannett Suburban Newspapers / The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York, where he won a highly-coveted Associated Press Award for breaking news. Before launching the 24/7 internet newspaper in 2008, he was an award-winning city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette, in his native Massachusetts for two years, winning a national investigative award on municipal corruption. The first of Frederick's three books, for which he has secured publishing rights, is called "Creepy Ass Cracker" (840 pages, Xlibris), which will hit bookstores in September. His second book, "Wrestling ReWind," is expected to be published in January 2015. The third book is not yet titled.
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