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Different Names - The Same Great Race

Dale Earnhardt JrNASCAR fans have put up with-and even made-their fair share of jokes regarding the constant name-changing going on in the sport. Where the name Winston once proudly stood tall, now one vaguely recollects the time when the smoking giant was the sport's main sponsor. Diehard fans don't necessarily mind the new vernacular; however, there are limits to just how far you can switch a name before an upheaval of irritated admirers decide to pounce on you like a livid leopard.

Look, we NASCAR fans are okay with the Winston to Nextel to Sprint change. As long as we get our racing, it doesn't rightly matter. We're even okay with the uber-liberal sentiment in the country, constantly bombarding "Merry Christmas" and coercing us to say "Happy Holidays" in its place. This is okay. Santa Claus is the devil, Mr. Liberal; we get it!

But for the love of Big E himself, please, we implore you, leave Daytona alone!

NASCAR love isn't a game. We're not whimsically switching names from blackjack to Caribbean blackjack in casino poker. We're talking about going from Daytona to the Jack Links Original Beef Jerky-slash-Maxell Blast-Away Home Electronics Auto Cleaner 500. See the difference? It's blasphemy.

Oh, things haven't gotten that bad yet? Well, then, I digress. Even still, the sanctity that is Daytona has been tampered with. She is no longer pure as the driven snow. The fair maiden, the racetrack to end all racetracks, is now a Coke product - at least in the 400. Thankfully, the Daytona 500 is still in tact, for now, but that doesn't change the fact that the Daytona 400, a 160-lap, 400-mile race, is now the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca Cola at Daytona.

Okay, maybe we are jumping the gun here a little bit. The Daytona 400, although raced on the same track as its bigger and more popular kin, is a different monster entirely. This Independence Day spectacle first debuted in 1959 as the Firecracker, and then switched again in 1989 to the Pepsi 400. But last year's change from Pepsi to Coke signaled more than an infinitesimally small change in flavor; it reaffirmed the fact that, if money wants, money gets its way. If enough greenage is thrown at any race, the name is no longer sacred.

There's still a full month's worth of racing before fans get to see the driver's suit up and take to the famous track on the holiday. This means you have time to yell at Jeff Gordon, save up for those fireworks, place some bets, or just park there now and prove the stereotype true that NASCAR fans are extremists. However, when it comes to another name change, who rightly knows how long that will be? Before the Daytona 400 goes green, it could be called the Dutch Boy Fresh and Easy Oil Based 400. See where this is going? It's a scary prospect.

In an effort to keep at least one iota of tradition in this remarkable country that glorifies left turns, let's all fight to shoo this cruel demon known as money away from the Daytona 500. Fans love that name, love that race, and love every piece of legend that goes along with it. Sully that and, well, you might just see the fightin' side of a lot of NASCAR's faithful.


Webmaster, Ace Toscano.

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