Daytona 500 Predictions: Unexpected Performances You Won't See Coming

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIFebruary 24, 2013

Nov 18, 2012; Homestead, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski celebrates after winning the 2012 championship following the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead Miami Speedway.  Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Expect the unexpected when NASCAR’s 2013 Daytona 500 kicks off.

No amount of money, teamwork and talent behind the wheel can guarantee a win at any racetrack, let alone the prestigious Daytona International Speedway.

Things happen that no one can control. The ripple effects of one random crash or one car leaving the pack due to mechanical issues can reshape the dynamic of the field entirely.

The end result is unexpected results. Things that don’t immediately jump to the forefront of our minds when we think about how Sunday afternoon’s race will pan out.

Here are a couple of those unpredictable predictions.


Danica Patrick Will Not Finish in the Top 20

The hype around Danica Patrick has been gradually growing since her announcement to make the transition to NASCAR in 2012. The allure of a woman driver competing with the big boys is sure to spark interest from a wider audience. It is good for the business, that’s for sure.

Patrick’s spotlight grew even brighter after she won the pole during last Sunday’s qualifying round. With that win, she became the first woman to win the pole at not just the Daytona 500, but at any Sprint Cup Series race.

Ultimately, these lofty expectations will be much harder to live up to during the actual race. Patrick has still not proven to be able to contend when the green flag rises and things get real.


No Joe Gibbs Racing Driver Will Finish in Top 5

Joe Gibbs Racing has developed into one of the top overall teams in NASCAR. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth are all top drivers and have some of the best equipment men working in their corner.

Is it too crazy to think none of them would finish inside the top five?

Kenseth is a new addition to the team in 2013, making this first race an unknown for everyone involved. It takes a lot to go right for a driver to take the checkered flag in a NASCAR race. Adding in the element of the unknown isn’t going to help the team in this one.


Brad Keselowski Will Take the Checkered Flag

The odds aren’t there when looking at the defending Sprint Cup champion and his previous performances at Daytona. He finished in eighth and 32nd place during two 2012 races at the track.

Coming off of a points championship with guns blazing isn’t always easy, either. But Keselowski is a tremendous driver and is just getting started and is not satisfied with winning just once.

"Each opportunity to seize the moment of what it means to be a champion is also a moment of self-reflection of what it's going to take, and why it's hard to do again,” Keselowski said, according to Thomas Pope of

We think he’ll come out on top, continuing the hot streak that solidified Penske Racing’s first Sprint Cup championship in 2012.