America's biggest race will take place this weekend when the Datona 500 comes to town—an event that always carries with it a sense of eager anticipation.
And this year is no exception to that, with plenty of intrigue and interest surrounding the season's first race. From Matt Kenseth's potential repeat to female driver Danica Patrick's pole position, the storylines heading into the 2013 Daytona 500 are very fascinating indeed.
Here are the biggest storylines to watch in NASCAR's biggest race of the year.
Can Matt Kenseth defend his title?
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth became the first driver to win the race twice in the past five years when he took the checkered flag back in 2012.
Now he'll look to defend that title here when he lines up from 10th place on the grid this weekend—a position that Kenseth is more than capable of winning from.
His experience and success at the track make him a very viable candidate to take the win again this year, but he'll have some work to do to get there.
Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. find extra speed?
NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th in qualifying for the Daytona 500, but is reportedly looking for more speed heading into the big race.
He finished eighth in the Sprint Unlimited last weekend and told AOL Sporting News that he desperately wants some more speed from his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
I wish it would have been a little bit faster, obviously, but we still surely have some things to learn about the car to get some speed in the car. We’ll work on that in the next couple of days. I’m sure we’ll have a good car for the 500.
It’s got a lot of speed in it. You just want to find a little more speed and take advantage of practice and maybe do a lot of single-car runs, too, to see if you can find some things to improve the speed on the car. To gain another tenth or two would be awesome on the car’s speed alone. That carries over in the drafting when you can improve on the speed of the car by itself.
Obviously it’s going to be a better car in the race pack. So, we’ll just try to work on some of those things and see what we can gain. We just need a little bit more to feel real happy. We’re pretty good.
Just how fast Earnhardt Jr. can go during the big race and how far he can move up from his 11th position will be fascinating to watch unfold.
Danica Patrick on pole: How fast can she go?
The biggest storyline of the weekend is that of female driver Danica Patrick, who became the first ever woman to win pole position of the historic race.
Patrick is currently participating in her first full season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and has never finished higher than fourth in a race before, but her pole position of the Daytona 500 has everyone talking about a potentially historic achievement for the rookie.
If Patrick could finish on the podium here, it truly would be an incredible achievement for both the driver herself as well as the team behind her. However, the numbers aren't in Patrick's favor here—the average finish of the past 10 winners of the pole position is 19th.
Whether Patrick bucks or continues that trend here will be fascinating.
What are you most looking forward to about the 2013 Daytona 500?
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