Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Race Imitates Race

The Daytona 500 auto race, with a car sponsored by Rick Santorum, just might have offered an imitation of the Republican presidential race.

Race Imitates Race

We all know that once in a while life imitates art or art imitates life, but last night and early this morning we might have caught a peek of an auto race imitating a presidential race.

I'm talking, of course, about the Daytona 500, NASCAR's season-starting race, in which GOP contender Rick Santorum sponsored an entry, the number 26 car, driven by veteran Tony Raines.

The auto race was as bizarre and unpredictable as the presidential race.

Here's what the New York Times said about Daytona:

"The Daytona 500 has seen its share of shocking races over the years, but nothing that has come before — and likely nothing that occurs here again — will ever quite match what happened to the 54th running of NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup event."

Seems to me the same could be said about this season's GOP race.

The auto race, once underway after its first-ever rain-delay, one that lasted 36 hours, included multiple wrecks, a huge fireball and two extra laps added on because drivers were forced to run under a warning flag too close to the end of the normal 200 laps.

The GOP campaign has certainly had its share of wrecks, just ask Bachmann, Cain, Perry, et al, and might need some extra laps to finally pick a winner.

The Daytona fireball, caused when a car slid sideways off the track and into a truck carrying jet fuel, was so big it destroyed one car (the driver was fine) and seared the track's asphalt, requiring repairs and further delay.

One could argue the tone of the GOP race has a scorched-earth quality to it, too.

Santorum, before the race, said he told his driver to hang back while others wreck or drop out and then move up in the end. In other words, imitate his own campaign.

Well, the 26 car was running 33rd out of 43 when I checked about 60 laps into the race. When I checked back much later after one long delay, the 26 car was running THIRD.

An auto race, I thought, imitating a presidential race.

As it turned out, the 26 car ended up finishing 19th. In other words, it made a serious bid to win it all but in the end came up short.

So maybe the outcome of one race has predicted the outcome of another.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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