2009 Coke Zero 400 Preview and Picks

Race: Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola
Date: July 4th, 2009
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Time: 7:30 pm
Channel: TNT

by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com

There’s no mistaking it. This weekend at Daytona is the ultimate Fourth of July weekend. Too bad I won’t be physically there. Oh well, maybe next year, right? Anyway, how awesome is it going to be watching these guys battle on a super speedway with only 9 races left in the Chase? For whatever reason, this particular race is just as good as the 500 in my opinion. Excitement is in the air, everyone’s in high spirits, and the drivers are ready for an awesome race.

Daytona International Speedway is a 2.5 mile tri-oval with 31 degree banking in the turns and 3 degree banking in the straights. The front stretch is 3800 feet while the back stretch is a whopping 3000 feet. This is an incredible track that amounts to a lot of speed, a lot of bad tempers, and a lot of wrecks. If Kyle Busch got in trouble last week on the restart, he’s in for a lot more trouble at this track.


For some reason, Daytona lends itself to wild wrecks. It’s a track where rookies and veterans mix, but rarely do both come out unscathed. Another great part about Daytona is the fact that you will see every driver and every team with a different strategy. Some are going to have serious tire strategies, while some will focus on fuel instead. There are also those guys who make their strategies as they go.

The super speedway kings that we need to keep track of are Tony Stewart, Dale Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and even keep your eyes peeled for Michael Waltrip. Although I would not consider him or Johnson a ‘king’ necessarily, they have both proven that they have what it takes to win. I would look for a lot of teamwork here too. This track is where drafting matters. If you lose the draft, you lose an enormous amount of track position. Michael Waltrip and Jr. are sure to hookup. You’ll see guys like Stewart, Jr., and Gordon work together as well. On these types of tracks, friends are everything. Teammates are great, but alliances sure don’t mean much when it comes to winning at Daytona.

My pick for this week: Tony Stewart

Stewart has the talent and the know-how to dominate this track. He’s awesome and has great equipment and a great team. He’s proven that he has what it takes to win and be a champion. Up front with him? Keep your eyes on Johnson, Kyle Busch, and even Jr. If Jr. is going to have a good showing this year, this is one of the tracks he needs to and can do it on. Stewart should be dominating though.

In case you’ve missed it, here are your current top 12 in the points:

1. Tony Stewart
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Kurt Busch
5. Carl Edwards
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Ryan Newman
8. Kyle Busch
9. Greg Biffle
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Mark Martin
12. Juan Montoya

There are definitely going to be some changes come Monday when the race is over. There are only nine races left until the Chase and Daytona seems to be the place where all hell breaks lose. Guys go flying and you’ll definitely see the ‘big one’ happen.

Loudon had a similar ‘big one’ with 8 cars wrecking and having serious damage. At Daytona, you’ll see 14 or 15 cars involved in a single wreck. I’ve seen cars disintegrate in thin air at this track with only a roll cage left. It gets pretty crazy out here. Stay tuned for a great show under the lights as we get ready for an awesome Fourth of July show.