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The Great American (horse) Race

I had fun watching the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Lots of horse races prepares you a little for auto-racing. The strategies are fairly similar. After the horses leave the gate, the drivers -- er, jockeys -- save their mounts for the final craziness as they're peeling out of the final turn. So the last 10 laps of a 500 are where the big action happens. In this case, Ryan Newman and teammate Kurt Busch finished one-two by a, car length.

A lot of Americans joined me in the fun. According to Fox Sports, "The 50th running of the Daytona 500 was the second highest-rated and second most-watched 500 shown on Fox. ...And this year's numbers also marked the first time that the Daytona 500 has earned a higher rating than the prime-time NFL package, with NBC averaging 10.0/16 on Sunday Night Football during the past season." Hmm.

The stats were provided by Nielsen Media Research. NASCAR's Fox report went on to say, "Looking at other top Winter/Spring events, the Daytona 500 also posted a higher rating than the most recent NCAA Final Four on CBS (9.9/18), final round of The Masters (9.1/22 on CBS) and Kentucky Derby (8.8/21 on NBC)." The Kentucky Derby too? That does hurt a little.

I was rooting for Juan Pablo Montoya, because NASCAR needs to get their diversity thing more together. It would be nice to see a Colombian win the Great American Race, and watch some people having cat fits about it, the way a few American racehorse people did when an Arab-owned horse (War Emblem) won the Kentucky Derby in 2002.

Montoya got up to 2nd at one point. But then he had contact with two other cars and had to pit to fix a tire problem. He finished 32nd. The Goddess of Fortune was busy upsetting other apple carts too -- favorite Jeff Gordon found himself out of the race entirely with a suspension problem after 186 laps.

This weekend the racing action shifts to the California Speedway. -- Patricia Nell Warren