The nerves, the thrills the white-knuckles, the chewed fingernails.  The moments of hope that the holy grail of the sport would finally be held, only to be dashed in the blink of an eye.

Once again, a first-time Daytona 500 winner was hoisting the Harley J. Earl Trophy while multiple former series champions pulled out of the speedway empty-handed again.

Such is the nature of the Daytona 500.   NASCAR’s biggest, most prestigious race.  It will change a driver’s life, while at the same time, break a dozen other’s hearts.

So, here’s the challenge: forget it.  Forget what just happened in the sport’s Super Bowl and move on.  In the big picture, the Daytona 500 is just one of 26.  26 races in the regular season, 25 more chances to qualify for the playoffs.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has a pretty good shot at one of those spots, but no better chance than whomever wins at Fontana next week.

The rest of the season starts right now; and there’s plenty of drama left to play out.