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5 Drivers with the Most to Prove at 2013 Daytona 500

Chad RobbCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2013

5 Drivers with the Most to Prove at 2013 Daytona 500

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    The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season will kick off Sunday at the Daytona 500, the biggest race of the season. How important is a good finish in the Great American Race to a driver’s season?

    In order to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, a driver must be consistent throughout the season. Putting together a string of top-five or top-10 finishes is more important than winning one race—unless that race is the Daytona 500.

    Winning the Daytona 500 can give a driver confidence throughout the season, because no matter where the driver goes, he or she will be referred to as The Daytona 500 Champion.

    Some drivers could use a good showing at this Sunday’s race to prove to fans and the media that they are ready to compete for a championship in 2013. Here is a list of five drivers with the most to prove at the 2013 Daytona 500…

Jeff Gordon

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    Jeff Gordon is a three-time Daytona 500 winner. He has won six point races at Daytona, with his last coming at the Daytona 500 in February of 2005.

    Gordon needs a good run at the Daytona 500 to prove that he is still an elite driver in NASCAR.

    Gordon has finished in the top 10 in 18 of the last 20 seasons, but people still want to write him off as a driver who is past his prime. With a win at Daytona on Sunday, Gordon will once again sit at the top of the sport he once dominated.

    If it is true that the best way to predict the future is to look at the past, then Gordon has a good chance to win this year’s Daytona 500.

    The Generation-6 car will make its debut this week, and history tells us the new car will benefit Gordon.

    When the Car of Tomorrow made its debut in 2007, Gordon was the first driver to adapt to the new car. He won two of the first five races and finished second in another. If he can adapt to the Generation-6 car as he did to the Car of Tomorrow, he will be a favorite to win the 2013 Daytona 500.

Brad Keselowski

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    Why does the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion have a lot to prove at this Sunday’s Daytona 500? One of the most popular questions coming into the 2013 season is: Can Brad Keselowski win back-to-back championships?

    Keselowski and the Penske organization will face many challenges in the 2013 season. The team will switch from Dodge to Ford using the new Generation-6 car, and Joey Logano will be Keselowski’s new teammate in 2013. The pressure is on Keselowski to overcome the challenges his team faces and prove he is an elite driver and capable of winning multiple championship.

    Keselowski has a history of performing poorly at Daytona. In his seven career races in the Sprint Cup series at Daytona, Keselowski only has one finish inside the top 15.

    Now that he is the champion, the spotlight will be on Keselowski in this Sunday’s race. If he struggles, people will start to question whether or not he is capable of winning consecutive championships (even though the questions would be unwarranted based on one race).

Kurt Busch

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    Kurt Busch’s career has taken a turn for the worse over the past two seasons. The past NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has had many run-ins with the media and other drivers. He lost his job at Penske Racing and ended up driving for the much smaller organization at Phoenix Racing in 2012.  

    Busch caught a break when he was asked to drive the No. 78 car for Furniture Row Racing. His new team will provide him with better equipment than he received last season at Phoenix Racing. Now he must prove he can still compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

    Busch has been one of the best drivers at Daytona. He has 10 top-five finishes at the racetrack. Last season was his worst, as he finished the two races No. 39 and No. 35. Those results were attributed more to his team than his driving ability.

    With Furniture Row Racing, Busch has no excuse for a poor race at Daytona. If he can find a way to finish up front on Sunday, he will quiet his critics for at least a week.

Carl Edwards

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    No driver had a more disappointing season in 2012 than Carl Edwards. Edwards came into the season as a favorite to win the championship. Edwards failed to win a race in 2012 and finished the season No. 15 in the point standings.

    Edwards needs to get off to a good start in 2013. Daytona is a good place for him to start. He has finished in the top 10 in seven of the last nine races at Daytona. Last season, he sat on the pole for the Daytona 500.

    With Edwards’ history of success at Daytona, if he were to struggle on Sunday, it would put him deeper into a hole that he has been trying to climb out of for a year.

Danica Patrick

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    The spotlight will be on Danica Patrick in the Daytona 500. One of the most popular drivers in the sport will start on the pole in the race on Sunday.

    If Patrick were to win the Daytona 500, it would be the lead story on every news channel in America. If Patrick were to finish near the back of the pack, people will start to question whether she belongs in the sport. With so much to gain and so much to lose in the Daytona 500, Patrick needs a good race on Sunday.

    Stewart Haas Racing has provided Patrick a car capable of winning the race. The question is: Can she drive the car to victory in her second Daytona 500? The pressure is on the driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevy.

    Follow Me on Twitter @HuskerMagic

    If you like Fantasy NASCAR; LIKE Chad’s Fantasy NASCAR Tips on Facebook.

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