Now on to the 5 Biggest Winners and 5 Biggest Losers from this year's Daytona 500:
Jamie McMurray, Finished 1st - No surprise the winner makes the Biggest Winners list. It wasn't looking too good for McMurray being in Cup this year after his disappointing four year run with Rousch Racing (only 2 wins in that time). However, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is co-owned by Chip Ganassi, who McMurray started his Cup career with. Apparently Ganassi felt that McMurray could still get the job done, but others weren't so sure. They also had to convince Bass Pro Shops to stay onboard as the primary sponsor Honestly, when I heard McMurray was driving the #1 car, I thought McMurray and Bass Pro Shops do NOT fit together. However, the move has been successful, as in just one race McMurray has won as many races with a Bass Pro Shops sponsored car than Martin Truex Jr had in his four years in the 1 car.
Dale Earnhardt Jr, Finished 2nd - Junior was relatively quiet in this race until it mattered most, shooting from tenth to second on the final lap. Although a win sure would have shut up the critics, Junior's awesome run showed that there wasn't only one Earnhardt that could run at the superspeedways.
Martin Truex Jr, Finished 6th - Truex Jr was impressive in his first start for Michael Waltrip Racing, and could have won had it not been for a vibration at the end. However, MWR has been known to run better at superspeedways than speedways. The next two weeks' results should show if Michael Waltrip Racing and the #56 car of Martin Truex Jr are serious contenders this year or just trying to progress.
Kevin Harvick, Finished 7th - Harvick has arguably the fastest car on the track and wasn't afraid to put himself in dangerous situations. Although his winless streak is now at 109, Harvick's strong run makes it appear that the 2009 failure if RCR was not the start of a pattern.
Paul Menard, Finished 13th - Let's face it: when everyone thinks you're only in the Cup Series because your dad will automatically sponsor you, you have something to prove. Menard stayed out of trouble, ran around the Top 10 for a while, and came away with a 13th place finish. Although a Top 15 looks nice, consistency has to appear for Paul Menard the driver, not Paul Menard the son of the guy who owns Menards, to be taken seriously.
Scott Speed, Finished 19th - A gamble with about 30 laps to go by crew chief Jimmy Elledge put Speed in the lead. To the dismay of the Fox broadcasting crew, Speed held his position for about 5 laps, but from then on Speed's used tires sent him straight back out of the Top 15. Although 19th isn't bad, the biggest upset in NASCAR history would have been better.
Tony Stewart, Finished 22nd - Stewart is one of those drivers that you can really never tell really has a bad car or is just lurking until time to put up or shut up. However, yesterday Stewart's situation was the former. Smoke was never really a contender, and his finishing position pretty much shows that. Add the fact that Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman totaled his car, and you could pretty much call the 2010 Daytona 500 "forgettable" for Tony Stewart.
Richard Petty Motorsports - Although Menard did place 13th, the rest of the King's drivers were contenders early, but fell out of contention when it mattered. Elliott Sadler had one of the best cars when the sun was up, but as soon as time slipped away, so did his car, leading to a disappointing 24th place finish. AJ Allmendinger led 18 laps in the 500, 8 more than he had in his entire Cup Series career, but in the end Allmendiner spun out, leading to a 32nd place finish. Kasey Kahne appeared to be one of the cars to beat until he received damage from another car while sidedrafting. On the second Green-White-Checkered attempt Kahne spun with a little help from Jeff Gordon and crashed into Robert Richardson Jr. Kahne finished 30th.
Jimmie Johnson, finished 35th - Nothing gives all the other Cup drivers more hope for a championship run than a bad run by Jimmie Johnson. Johnson had tire issues around the time of the first red flag for track issues and in the end retired due to a rear axle problem. Although Johnson is down now, odds are he won't be for long.
Daytona Track Officials - The giant pothole in the middle of Daytona International Speedway did not really make those in charge look very smart, as two red flags had to be put out to try and resolve the issue. This could mean that the track will be repaved, something the drivers do not want.