Race: Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola
Date: Saturday July 3rd, 2010
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Time: 7:30 pm ET
Did Jimmie Johnson read my article last week and decide that he had to make a statement? Okay, chances are, probably (definitely) not. But, seriously, I had to say something about New Hampshire not being a particularly strong track for the Hendrick guys and then Jimmie goes and pulls out another win. I guess he wanted that momentum coming into this big racing weekend at Daytona.
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Daytona is always a fan favorite. The atmosphere is incredible with everyone always having a blast. This Independence Day weekend is sure to be nothing short of spectacular. With all of the rivalries on and off the track along with all of the different winners, this season is shaping up to be quite the crapshoot. We still have the typical hot drivers in the top 12 like Gordon, Johnson, and Kenseth, but we are seeing a lot less domination by any single driver or team.
This track is a 2.5 mile tri-oval super speedway with 31 degree banking in the turns and 3 degree banking on the straights. The frontstretch is 3800 feet and the backstretch is 3000 feet. Tires are essential here as they can make or break a driver’s ability to get to the front of the pack. Drafting is key as well as the drivers who come out of the back can lost upwards of 15-20 spots in one stretch. Friends are the last important element here. No friends, no track position. Either that, or have Kyle Busch’s personality to just drive through everyone. That works too.
Daytona is really going to do nothing but throw another wrench in the points for these guys. Between the ‘big one’ and the sheer unpredictability of this track, the points always come out a lot different than they did coming in to the race.
The drivers to watch at this track are the typical super speedway kings like Gordon and Tony Stewart. Juan Montoya has proven that he has what it takes to run in the top as well. Kyle Busch is aggressive enough to get his way to the front, so watch out if he does because he will drive away from the field. Big brother Kurt Busch is showing a lot of consistency and strength as well, although he is not usually as predictably good at these types of tracks as is Kyle.
The winner, in my opinion, is going to be Jimmie Johnson. While he may be the safe pick, he is coming back into his usual form of domination. Coming off a win, Johnson is always strong and the sheer momentum really helps him out. Teammate Gordon will be helpful in pushing Johnson to the front as teammates have to work together here. Hopefully, there’s a little more love in that garage than there was earlier this year because without teamwork here, the drivers are destined to get thrown to the back in a hurry.
Here’s a recap of your current top 12 after Loudon:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kyle Busch
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Jeff Gordon
6. Kurt Busch
7. Matt Kenseth
8. Jeff Burton
9. Tony Stewart
10. Greg Biffle
11. Mark Martin
12. Carl Edwards
Jr. is holding strong in 13th, a mere 3 points out of 12th right now. Those top 5 drivers, Denny Hamlin included, are all strong contenders for victory lane this weekend. Being a night race at Daytona, though, brings out something in Johnson. Just think about his domination at Lowe’s during the night races. I think he will manage to do the same thing. Stay tuned for an exciting night of racing as we head to Daytona International for one of the greatest races of the year!