Archive for category Daytona 500
The shortest offseason in sports comes to a close as on sunday we start the 2014 NASCAR season with the running of the great american race, the Daytona 500. The super bowl of stock car racing gets the season underway sunday, and just like any restrictor plate races, its very unpredictable. So here is five drivers who have the best chance of winning sunday and three drivers who could surprise a lot of people.
Expect To Win
Matt Kenseth, 20 Home Depot/Dollar General Toyota- Joe Gibbs Racing
Last season Kenseth had arguably his best complete season in his career, winning a career high 7 races in 2013. The only thing he couldn’t win was a championship. He hopes to have similar success in 2014 starting with the Daytona 500. In last years 500, Kenseth looked to have the car to beat until his engine blew, resulting in a DNF. Matt already has one win in this Speedweeks in the duel races, so Matt will have one of the cars to beat in the 500.
Kevin Harvick, 4 Budweiser Chevy- Stewart/HAAS Racing
Harvick’s runner up finish in his duel race may have been disqualified due to his car not meeting the right measurements in post race inspection, but that doesn’t mean that car wont be just as fast on sunday. Harvick is making his first start in the 500 for his new team at Stewart/HAAS Racing and has been fast all through Speedweeks so he will move up through the pack with relative ease. Also Harvick has been known to just show up at the front towards the end of any race at Daytona.
Kurt Busch, 41 HAAS Automation Chevy- Stewart/HAAS Racing
Running for his 4th different team in four years, this may be Kurt’s best chance of returning to championship form. The former series champ now has his best equipment in years and is has shown this week, finishing third in his duel and starting 8th. This could be Kurt’s best and last real chance to capture the great american race.
Denny Hamlin, 11 FedEx Toyota- Joe Gibbs Racing
After a rough 2013 season which for a good amount of it had Denny in a hospital for a collapsed vertebra, Hamlin has started this season the best way possible, winning the Sprint Unlimited and his duel race. Hamlin and the rest of the Joe Gibbs cars have been fast all week so most likely one of them could find themselves in victory lane on sunday. Hamlin can complete the Daytona trifecta with a 500 win.
Jimmie Johnson, 48 Lowe’s Chevy- Hendrick Motorsports
Last years series and 500 champion is a threat everywhere he goes and even with a back up car for this years 500, Johnson should be competitive as always. As long as Johnson can avoid the big one and stay alive till the end he will be a threat for another Daytona 500 championship to add to his already impressive resume.
Austin Dillon, 3 DOW Chevy- Richard Childress Racing
Dillon already has a ridiculous amount of pressure on him, taking over the legendary number 3 car for his grandfather Richard Childress. But now after winning the pole for the 500 it adds more on the young driver. He has the talent and the equipment to win and the media explosion that would happen if Austin could take the number 3 back to victory lane at Daytona would make any NASCAR fan happy.
Danica Patrick, 10 GoDaddy.com Chevy- Stewart/HAAS Racing
Speaking of possible stories that could rock the NASCAR world, imagine if Danica won the biggest race of the year. Well crazy things can happen at Daytona and all it takes is to be in the right place at the right time for a driver to get the biggest win of their lives. Danica has good equipment and with past Daytona 500 and Sprint Cup Champions around her in Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick, she has as good a chance as any to become the first women to win the 500.
Brian Scott, 33 Whitetail Chevy- Richard Childress Racing
OK so this one may be a bit far out but this team has been fast all week. Finishing 5th in his duel race and qualifying 12th for the 500 shows that Scott can race in his 33 Richard Childress Chevy. Hey crazier things have happened.
Another year of NASCAR brings a lot of changes to the sport. The biggest is the debute of the new generation 6 cars from Ford, Chevy, and Toyota. Seeing how the drivers can handle the new cars will be something to keep an eye on all year. After the crowning of a new champion in 2012, Brad Keselowski will have the opportunity and the challenge of defending his title in 2013. After all of the expectations and the excitement, we finally get to see the generation 6 cars in action at the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing”, the Daytona 500. Because of how unpredictable picking a winner at Daytona can be, here are five drivers I believe have the best chance to win the Great American Race and three other drivers who may surprise some people by having a great run on Sunday.
Expect To Win
Kevin Harvick, 29 Budweiser Chevy- Richard Childress Racing
Nobody has had a better Speedweek’s this year than Harvick. Winning the Sprint Unlimited and his Budweiser Duel race, the new father has been on point all week with his eyes set on his second Daytona 500 championship. Harvick always has a habit of showing up at the front near the end of a race so don’t be surprised if Harvick is in a great position at the end for the win.
Kyle Busch, 18 M&M’s Toyota- Joe Gibbs Racing
Kyle 2012 season was a rough one for the driver of the 18 car. Missing the chase last year and only winning one race, Kyle got the 2013 season off to a much better start by winning his Budweiser Duel and has a very fast car for the 500 and will try to get his first 500 victory.
Tony Stewart, 14 Bass Pro Shop/Mobil 1 Chevy- Stewart/HAAS Racing
Year in and year out Stewart comes to Daytona Speedweeks with the goal to win the 500 and every year he comes up just short. Tony has won just about every race at Daytona from the July race to Nationwide race but the 3 time champ just can not get the big one. Why not this year?
Matt Kenseth, 20 Home Depot/Dollar General Toyota- Joe Gibbs Racing
Last years Daytona 500 champion finds himself defending his victory with a new team. Moving from 17 car with Roush Fenway Racing to the 20 car with Joe Gibbs Racing, Matt will have to adapt on the fly with his new team to find success again at Daytona this year. Throughout Speedweeks the 20 team has seemed in sync and will give Kenseth a great chance to defend his title.
Greg Biffle, 16 3M Ford- Roush Fenway Racing
Biffle would have the best Speedweeks of any driver if Kevin Harvick didn’t exist. Finishing 2nd to Harvick in both the Sprint Unlimited and the Budweiser Duel race, Biffle has shown he has a car that can run up front and compete on Sunday. Starting 5th won’t hurt his chances either.
Danica Patrick, 10 Godaddy.com Chevy- Stewart/HAAS Racing
We all know she has got a very fast car, but just getting the pole position in the biggest NASCAR race of the year isn’t enough for some people to give Danica respect. Winning the 500 sure would. Having a teacher/Teammate like Tony Stewart will help Danica learn and get better all week leading up to the 500 on Sunday. If she can keep her car clean and out of trouble, she could be in position to make even more history this Sunday.
Paul Menard, 27 Menard’s Chevy- Richard Childress Racing
Just like his teammates, Paul has had a fast car this week and the former Brickyard 400 winner should have one in the 500. Finishing 7th in the second duel race and starting 16th for the 500, Paul will have some work to do but stranger things have happened at Daytona.
Austin Dillon, 33 Honey Nut Cheerios Chevy- Richard Childress Racing
The grandson of owner Richard Childress, Austin will be running a few races in Sprint Cup this year including the Daytona 500 and he has a fast car. Finishing 3rd in his duel race and starting 8th, Austin will try to make the most of his chance in the 500 and starting up front with great equipment and a whole lot of talent. He may just pull a Trevor Bayne this Sunday.
After the shortest offseason in sports, NASCAR is back. And unlike any sport, NASCAR starts its season off with its biggest event. NASCAR has made this years edition of the Great American Race more unpredictable than others by restricting the use of the two car tandem racing that we have seen over the past few years and created a hybrid of the two car tandem and traditional restrictor plate racing seen at Daytona and Talladega. As the Budweiser Shootout and the Gatorade Duels showed us, this race should be exciting.
Entering the 2012 season there are several big stories about several big names that have and will continue to dominate speedweeks. The obvious attention getter is the first Sprint Cup start for Danica Patrick. Bringing the attention and all of her fans to NASCAR from Indy Car, Danica has become the no. 1 sight for fans to see at Daytona this week. But she is not just here to be a side show. In her duel race on Thursday she showed she can hang with the big boys in Sprint Cup and had a good run going for her until Aric Almirola got into her after being forced down by Jamie McMurray and caused her to take a huge hit against the inside wall down the backstretch and will send her to a backup car for the 500. But in Nationwide qualifying Danica took the pole for the race so her week has had his ups and downs.
Danica’s car owner for the Daytona 500 and defending Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart comes into speedweeks as the hottest driver out there. Putting on a clinic in the 2011 Chase, winning half of the races after struggling to compete in the regular season, lead him to his third Championship in NASCAR’s highest series. But the one thing missing on Tony’s resume for the Hall of Fame is a Daytona 500 victory. Could this be his best chance to get it?
As with every year in NASCAR drivers switch teams and move to different cars for the next season, and they are a few this year. Kasey Kahne leaves Red Bull Racing after his one year contract is up and joins Hendrick Racing in the #5 car forming one of the best 4 car teams in NASCAR history with Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kahne replaces Mark Martin who moves to Michael Waltrip Racing and will run a limited Schedule in the #55 car. Clint Bowyer joins Mark at MWR and will drive the #15 5 Hour Energy car after leaving Richard Childress Racing. After his tirade towards ESPN pit road reporter Dr. Jerry Punch, Kurt Busch finds himself being let go from Penske Racing and joining Phoenix Racing driving the #51 car. Replacing Kurt will be AJ Allmendinger in the #22 car.
Trying to predict the winner of a race at Daytona is like trying to hit a three pointer with a blind fold on so rather than give you one pick for a winner, I will give you 5 drivers I expect to have a chance to win at the end and a few drivers who can surprise some people this Sunday.
Expect To Win
Harvick has to be thought of every time there is a race he is in. Kevin just finds a way to be near the front at the end of any race. Just see the end of the Daytona 500 in 2007. Selling his truck team should help him focus just on the 500 more than other years. Harvick will start 13th in the Great American Race and he should stay up front and have a great chance to get his 2nd 500 victory.
The defending champion has won almost everything in NASCAR except this race and he knows it. He is coming off one of the greatest postseason runs in sports history and is looking to use the momentum of that run to get his first Daytona 500 victory. He has already visited victory lane once this week winning the first Gatorade Duel race and will start 4th for the 500. Look for Smoke to be in the front when the white flag waves.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Yes I know Dale hasn’t won a race in forever but he has made strides towards ending that streak. And what better place to do it than at the place his father owned for years. Dale has always ran great at Daytona including a victory in 2004 in the Daytona 500, and he has to always be a favorite to win every trip to the track. He will start 5th and will keep himself in the front of the pack all day possibly leading him to his 2nd 500 win and his first win in a long time.
Kyle showed how skilled he is behind the wheel of a race car durring his win in the Bud Shootout on Saturday, almost wrecking twice but somehow saving the car both times. Kyle has run good in the 500 but just could never get to the checkered flag first. This year could be the year he finally gets there first.
Roush has brought a lot of fast cars to Daytona but the one car who has been constantly fast all week has been the #16 car of Greg Biffle. Greg qualified on the front row for the 500, was competing for the win in his Duel race, and has been at the top of the charts for speed all week in practice. Him and his race team have got his car hooked up for the 500. They just have to put it all together in order to get his first Daytona 500 victory.
After getting his first career win at Darlington last year, Smith is looking to take the next step in his career. Regan raced well last year in the 500 especially in the Duel race pushing Kurt Busch to a win. Finishing 2nd in this years Duel race again, Smith looks to have a car that can compete this sunday and starting 6th will help him try to get his 2nd career win.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
This may only be a one race deal for the defending Nationwide Champion but this young driver has shown he can race with the best of them. Filling in for Trevor Bayne last year in the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte, Ricky finished 11th in his first career Sprint Cup Race. Now driving for Jack Roush in the #6 car Ricky has been running fast all week and looks to be just as fast in the 500.
Danica has shown that she can race with NASCAR’s top tier drivers and be competitive. Despite the rough wreck during the Duel race on thursday, Danica was competitive and stayed near the front all race. She will have to start in the back of the field because of going to a backup car so she will have her work cut out for her, but if she can keep her noes clean and stick around till the end, she could find herself in a history making position.
by: Andrew Isaac