Daytona 500 Preview
Sunday 2:00PM Eastern
Daytona International Speedway will host the 51st running of the Daytona 500 this Sunday in the biggest racing event of the season. The Daytona 500 is one of the most watched sporting events every year and has grown much more popular than the famous Indy 500. The top drivers in NASCAR will take to the high banked 2.5 mile super speedway on Sunday in search of one of the most prestigious titles in racing that claims an individual as Daytona 500 Champion. Often times on NASCAR’s biggest stage, the cream rises to the top and that will be expected this Sunday. Over the week some familiar faces have paced the field through practices and qualifying races and this weekend’s spectacle will likely come down to a battle between the top names in the sport.
Although there is no lop sided favorite heading into this Sunday, Kyle Busch is receiving the highest odds to win at 5/1. Busch won an amazing 8 races last year in a breakout season and also captured Gatorade 125 qualifying race win on Thursday. The young talented driver of the #18 Toyota will be expected to run up front this weekend with a chance to win. Former teammate of Busch, Tony Stewart is another familiar face that has ran upfront all week long. Stewart who now owns Stewart-Haas racing has kept his new #14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet out front against the best in the business all week. Considering how well Stewart usually runs in the restrictor plate style racing, many expect the 2-time Champion to be a factor come time for the checker flag.
One name that has come up often over the week is that of 50 year old veteran Mark Martin. Martin did not run a full season list year in a limited ride, but signed as the 4th member of Hendrick Motorsports at the end of last year to give one more chance at a full season. Martin qualified on the outside pole and is guaranteed the 2nd starting spot. However, Martin also kept the #5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet out front of the majority of the Duel 125 race before finishing with a 2nd place finish. Many have noticed how strong the #5 machine has been all weekend and are anticipating a strong showing by one of the sentimental favorites for Sunday. Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr are all huge names that have had success at Daytona. Gordon has won the Daytona 500 3 times which leads all active drivers and capped off a win in the qualifying races on Thursday as well. Jimmie Johnson won the 2006 Daytona 500 and has also seemed to have a solid ride all week. While Dale Earnhardt Jr is always a factor at the super speedways and all eyes will be on NASCAR’s most popular superstar. Earnhardt Jr won the Daytona 500 back in 2004 and has always been one of the best drivers to take part of restrictor plate racing.
Kevin Harvick captured a win in the Budweiser Shootout last week and also won the 2007 Daytona 500. While Harvick is not considered by many a restrictor plate racer, he ranks in the top 5 in driver average finishes at Daytona. Harvick has struggled much of the week and if he is to make anymore magic happen he will have to do so from the 32nd starting position. 18 year old Joey Logano opened a lot of eyes heading into the weekend after a strong 3rd place showing in the qualifying races. Logano will make his first official Sprint Cup point’s race start this weekend and it will be interesting to see if Logano can continue to impress. The young kid has received a lot of hype over the last year and not it is time for him to prove it on the track.
Other names to keep an eye on this weekend that may be potential dark horses include Jamie McMurray. McMurray has been up and down in the past at the super speedways, but basing around how the car has looked this week the #26 Crown Royal machine could really impress some people this Sunday. Also Juan Pablo Montoya finished 3rd in one of the Duels on Thursday and he too has looked strong through the practice fazes heading into the Great American Race.
Notable Daytona 500 Betting Odds…
Dale Earnhardt Jr 6/1
Mark Martin 12/1
Jimmie Johnson 7/1
Kevin Harvick 15/1
Denny Hamlin 15/1
Kyle Busch 5/1
Joey Logano 50/1
Tony Stewart 12/1
Jeff Gordon 8/1
Carl Edwards 15/1
Kasey Kahne 35/1
Brian Vickers 40/1
Jamie McMurray 25/1
Juan Pablo Montoya 40/1
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