FORT WORTH — NASCAR opened the rain-delayed Duck Commander 500 race on a cautious note Monday morning, as the first 10 laps were run under a yellow flag. They wanted to make sure all of the moisture was gone from the track after Sunday's heavy rain.
“Crazy start and a crazy finish to today's Duck Commander 500, so I think it’s all very memorable,” said Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage.
Because the cars were on the track with the jet dryers, several cars reported damage to their hoods caused by air pressure when they passed by those powerful machines.
“I've had my doors blown off before — that's an old racing expression — but I don't think I've ever seen a hood blown off before,” said TV race analyst Darrell Waltrip.
Actual racing didn't start until Lap 10. Just three laps later, points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran into the rain-soaked infield and ended up in the wall with his car on fire.
“I really didn't have a good visual where the grass was and got down in there pretty good,” Earnhardt said. “You can't run through there. It was just a mistake on my part.”
Earnhardt finished dead last for the first time in seven seasons. Jimmy Johnson's car was also damaged from Earnhardt's crash and finished 25th.
The end of the race turned crazy. Joey Logano had a 2.2-second lead on teammate Brad Keselowski, and was within a half-lap of getting the white flag which would have given him the victory.
But a caution flag came out for debris after Kurt Busch brushed the wall. That created a green-white checker finish. Logano was able to pass Jeff Gordon on the last lap and at 23 years, 10 months and 14 days, became the youngest-ever winner at Texas Motor Speedway.
“It was nerve racking,” Logano said. “I went through a lot of emotions because I went from, 'Hey, I'm about to win this thing!' ... to the most mad I’ve ever been in my life ... to the most excited I've ever been in my life — all within three minutes.”
“He got in the back of me and I thought I was going to wreck, so at that point, I was like second would be good,” said driver Jeff Gordon.
One of the traditions for the winner at Texas Motor Speedway is to fire guns into the air.
“When I got here, I was like, 'I want guns.'" Logano said. “I got guns. I don't know what to do with them, but I've got guns.”
NASCAR wanted to put more emphasis on winning this year, and so far it seems to be working. In this season's seven races, there have been seven different winners.