Heading Back To The Beach: Preview of The Coke Zero 400

Michael CampbellContributor IJuly 2, 2008

It's the Fourth of July weekend.The traditional cook-outs, parties, and fireworks will kick off around the county. Only one place will have their fireworks that will outshine Macy's Fireworks show in New York. Daytona International Speedway will be the host of the Coke Zero 400 on July 5th. Daytona provided some interesting action with the "Car of Today".

1. Transitions In Competition

I think the Car of Tomorrow is moving restrictor plate racing from the typical "ticking timebomb" as fans wait eagerly for the "Big One" to a more team oriented, drafting and passing challenge. Looking back at the finish of 08 Daytona 500, Penske teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch drafted by Joe Gibbs teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch. Since these car are larger and heavier, these cars will be less willing to spin and create the tornado of smoke and debris that fans are usually expecting when they tune to watch a Daytona or Talladega. Now, it will be up to drivers, spotters, and crew chiefs to make sure they can get victory by playing unique and creative pit strategy and efficient teamwork with other teammates and friends on the racetrack.

2. Desire to Win

Daytona could provide the win several of NASCAR's biggest names. Jeff Gordon, who had several wins in 2007 coming into Daytona, is winless in 2008. Tony Stewart is also in the same boat as Gordon for wins. The only difference is that Tony Stewart, statistically, runs strongest and picks up the most wins from Infineon to the Chase. This season, Tony has had bad luck follow him around across the country. Infineon, racing second, gets taken out in a freak accident. New Hampshire, Mother Nature was just not on his side. This could Gordon and Stewart's big night under the lights of Daytona.

3. 40 Car Shut Down

Chip Ganassi Racing announced yesterday that due to a lack of sponsorship funding, the 40 car, driven by Indy Car Champ Dario Franchitti, will be pulled from the track ASAP. This is an announcement that I actually saw coming. I will give it to Franchitti, he is an excellent driver in the IRL. But, I felt from the beginning that Ganassi should have placed him in the Nationwide series to transition from the open wheel cars to the NASCAR stock cars. I think that Ganassi felt that Juan Pablo Montoya made the transition smoothly, which he did, so Franchitti would also. Montoya and Franchitti are two completely different drivers from different backgrounds. They should use the remainder of the season to prep Franchitti and work on their Nationwide team. With the 40 car shut down, that means that one more team can possibly make the field in the "Go or Go Home" qualifying session this week at Daytona.

Given these factors, The Coke Zero 400 should be just as exciting and action-packed as ever, just don't expect to see a huge wreck because the Chase is only a few races away.