Race: Daytona 500
Date: Sunday February 15, 2009
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Time: 2pm ET
Well, ladies and gentleman, it’s my pleasure to announce that the Daytona 500 is THIS Sunday! I’m beyond stoked, I just have to get that out there. For all of you playing those fantasy leagues, go back and check out my record from last season. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you can trust my input. Even if you don’t, read the previews for the entertainment value. It’s worth it, not that I’m biased or anything of course.
Anyway, we are headed for our inaugural 2009 Cup points start here at Daytona International Speedway. This is one of the most notorious races when it comes to stock cars. This race is big. If you’ve won the Daytona 500, you’ve certainly solidified yourself as a true talent. This track is a FAST 2.5 mile tri-oval with 31 degree banking in the turns and a slight 3 degree on the straights. The frontstretch and backstretch are 3800 and 3000 feet respectively. There’s plenty of room for these guys to get fast, get tight, and get in each other’s way.
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If the Bud Shootout is any kind of a preview as to how these guys will run in the 500, you better stick to your seats. These kinds of tracks lend themselves to record lead changes because of drafting. For you rookies out there, drafting is basically two or more cars hooking up bumper to nose, causing the air to go around and above the cars thereby creating a more aerodynamic effect. The more people you can get in a draft, the faster you’ll go technically speaking. The draft is what tracks like Daytona and Talladega are all about.
Although strategy has a great deal to do with these kinds of races as with any kind, having great teammates and awesome drafting partners are what truly get you to the checkers first. Coming off turn four, there are usually 10 or more drivers who could still win this race. It basically turns into a drag race at that point. I mean, there can be as many as 10 lead changes on a single lap easily if these guys race like they did last Saturday night.
From what we have already gathered, the front line is set, but the rest of the field will qualify in tomorrow’s Gatorade Duels. This is a special case for qualifying that happens only at Daytona. The first two are set up from a traditional qualifying setup that these guys raced for on Sunday. So, from that, we know that Martin Truex Jr. has the pole and Mark Martin will race from the outside pole position.
Based on all this information and all of the prerace shenanigans that I’ve seen, I am finding it EXTREMELY hard to pick someone for the win. The problem is that so many drivers looked so strong and had such great racing packages during the Shootout. Regardless, I’m going to have to say that I am picking Jeff Gordon for the win on Sunday. That is probably the most unpopular pick of all time, and I truly hope that you guys continue to come back even though I picked the most hated driver.
The reason that I am picking Jeff is because he looked so different from last year. He almost look s like he has new air breathed into him. In the Shootout, Gordon came from last and was running first for a while after he made his way through the pack. He even managed to dodge just about every caution that occurred. That’s one of the things that I like about Jeff. He’s proven that he is one of the few that has the ability to work off his brain rather than emotion like some of the younger drivers. Honestly, Jeff just really needs a win too, coming off his first winless season since his rookie year. Now, if Jeff doesn’t pull into victory lane, I’d be willing to bet that another Hendrick driver will. Johnson is strong, not that I needed to even say that. Jr. also had a very promising run before getting involved in an accident that wasn’t his fault. And Mark Martinwhat can we even say about good ‘ole Mark? He’s in the front row. He’s an awesome guy. I’d love to see him win the 500.
So, assume the Hendrick team will be working extremely well together as far as drafting goes. Keep your eyes open for those other teams, though. The Roush guys have found their groove as seen with last year’s finishes and wins. Harvick did win the Shootout too. Edwards is always a force to be reckoned with, but his record with super speedways can’t touch any of the Hendrick drivers. Tony Stewart came in 4th in the Shootout, which is quite an accomplishment for a first time owner-driver. Jamie McMurray is running well too. It’s going to be a heck of a race and a heck of a finish. I think the Shootout is a great prelude to what we are going to see all year long.