Three drivers will dominate the 2013 Daytona 500. They will lead most of the laps and, barring getting caught up in a big wreck, will battle it out to take the checkered.
For the most part, we have all the information we are going to get before the start of this year's Great American Race.
The Sprint Unlimited, qualifying runs and the Budweiser Duels have all come and gone. Finally the starting grid (via USA Today's Jeff Gluck) is set, and little stands between us and Sunday's race.
By this point, we have a good feel for how the Gen-6 cars will change the racing styles and which teams have their cars flying around the track. Throw all of that information together and it is pretty clear, these three drivers are ready to dominate.
Kevin Harvick has to be considered the favorite at this point. He has been flawless in the week leading up to Daytona.
He won the Sprint Unlimited and then captured the first Budweiser Duel. His Richard Childress Chevrolet looks strong and Harvick looks right at home in his Gen-6 car.
By all appearances, these guys are going to be battling in big packs, which will allow for drivers to quickly make up ground.
However, passing is not easy—especially when the traffic thins out near the lead. It is going to take bold and aggressive moves to make a pass in a one-on-one setting, and no one has ever accused Harvick of not being aggressive enough—which actually leads to our next driver.
The winner of the second Budweiser Duel Kyle Busch is, along with Harvick, arguably the most aggressive driver in the Sprint series.
The fact that these two guys won the Duels should not be overlooked. Their similar driving styles led to success in the Duels and they will be rewarded for it in the race as well.
For Busch, the Duel win was a great sign. Busch, who has hoarded victories in the past, collected just one checkered last year and didn't even qualify for the Chase.
By taking this Duel he is making a statement that he is ready to be a factor. He will further prove that point on Sunday.
The return of pack racing takes NASCAR back to the late 90s and early 2000s. Jeff Gordon did alright for himself in that era. He will feel right at home in this race.
Gordon finished 12th in his Duel (the second), but we can't read anything into that finish. He already had the second starting spot locked up; his main objective in the Duel was to keep his car safe. He would have run away with that race had he not sped down pit lane.
Gordon has a fast car, he knows how to dominate this style of racing and he will shine come Sunday.