Finally, NASCAR is back on track.
The Daytona 500 is set to kick off the 2013 season as drivers, are locked into their starting lineup positions at Daytona International Speedway. The green flag is just about to wave to kick off this year’s Great American Race.
Thursday’s Budweiser Duels, as well as Sunday’s qualifier, provided plenty of drama and excitement as some of the top drivers in the world positioned themselves to make a run at winning the 55th edition of this storied and prestigious race.
Danica Patrick became the first woman to win the pole for a Sprint Cup Series race. Does that give her good odds of being the first woman to win the race? Only nine of the race's pole sitters have ended up winning the Daytona 500 in the previous 54 races.
Starting position has historically helped drivers to come away with a win at this race, as 39 of those 54 previous races were won by a driver who started in the top nine of the pack.
However, that trend seems to be on the decline, as several drivers in the past decade have overcome poor starting position to win the checkered flag at Daytona.
Trevor Bayne (2011, No. 32), Matt Kenseth (2009, No. 43), Kevin Harvick (2007, No. 34), Jeff Gordon (2005, No. 15), Ward Burton (2002, No. 19) and Michael Waltrip (2001, No. 19) all won the race after poor runs during the pre-race duels.
Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
When: Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. ET
Complete Starting Lineup (via NASCAR.com)
|1||10||Danica Patrick||2||24||Jeff Gordon|
|3||29||Kevin Harvick||4||18||Kyle Busch|
|5||16||Greg Biffle||6||5||Kasey Kahne|
|7||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||8||33||Austin Dillon|
|9||48||Jimmie Johnson||10||15||Clint Bowyer|
|11||78||Kurt Busch||12||20||Matt Kenseth|
|13||14||Tony Stewart||14||55||Mark Martin|
|15||2||Brad Keselowski||16||27||Paul Menard|
|17||13||Casey Mears||18||31||Jeff Burton|
|19||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||20||1||Jamie McMurray|
|21||22||Joey Logano||22||34||David Regan|
|23||47||Bobby Labonte||24||9||Marcos Ambrose|
|25||38||David Gilliland||26||43||Aric Almirola|
|27||87||Joe Nemechek||28||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
|29||26||Michael Waltrip||30||7||Dave Blaney|
|31||95||Scott Speed||32||35||Josh Wise|
|33||21||Trevor Bayne||34||39||Ryan Newman|
|35||11||Denny Hamlin||36||99||Carl Edwards|
|37||56||Martin Truex Jr.||38||98||Michael McDowell|
|39||32||Terry Labonte||40||51||Regan Smith|
|41||36||JJ Yeley||42||83||David Reutimann|
Driver to Watch: Danica Patrick
CNN’s Don Lemon interviewed Danica Patrick about her history-making performance in becoming the first woman to win the pole for a Sprint Cup Series event.
Patrick has certainly drawn her share of media attention since transitioning to NASCAR in 2012. Her rookie season didn’t go too well. In 10 races, she failed to place in the top 10, recording an average finish of 28th place.
A win at Daytona would certainly propel Patrick to iconic status in the NASCAR world.
Prediction: Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon is the most successful active driver at this track, and he will definitely benefit from his second starting position. His three Daytona 500 wins makes him only the third driver in the history of the race to accomplish that feat.
Hendrick Motorsports, Gordon’s team, is stacked with talented drivers. It will field Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season, all of whom qualified in the top 20 for the race (three qualified in the top 10).