After an exciting speed weeks thus far, we here as fans have to now make out predictions for the DAYTONA 500 this Sunday. There are so many great choices for this "Great American Race" so making one drive an "odds on favorite" is very tough to do even more so at a restrictor plate race. So now here are the five drivers in my opinion that you the racing fans will have to look out for this Sunday.
Kevin barely finished second in the first dual race but this man is known as a proven winner at Daytona especially in the 500 race. Folks may think that Harvick isn't going to accomplish much this season since his comments late last season that has pretty much painted the picture that he will be leaving RCR at the end of the season. Now you may think that Harvick is being over hyped but he can win this Sunday, just look at his stats if you do not believe me. In the last 5 Daytona 500's, Harvick has finished in the top 5 three times and did win the 2007 race in an amazing finish where he edged out Mark Martin Kevin won the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday night for a second straight season which automatically made him a serious contender to win the 500. Kevin ran strong in his dual race where he almost won that so you guys know that Kevin has a great racecar. If Kevin Harvick wins this Sunday, it would be his first win since the Daytona 500 in 2007 so a win would be great for Kevin and it very well could happen.
Tony Stewart has been running the Daytona 500 since 1999 and yet he has still not won this great American tradition. Tony is a very accomplished NASCAR driver with 2 Sprint Cup Series championships, 37 career wins, and has never had a winless season in his career. Folks know that Stewart is great in Daytona heck he has won the July 400 mile race three times in his career, 2 Gatorade Dual wins, and 3 Budweiser Shootout wins so you cannot say that Stewart can't get it done at Daytona. Stewart has 5 top ten finishes in the last six seasons so you know that Stewart will be there at the end of the race but will folks start to compare his winless streak to the great Dale Earnhardt's? Well if Tony can win the Daytona 500 this Sunday, then nobody can deny that Stewart is one of the all time greatest drivers in the history of NASCAR.
Dale Earnhardt Jr
One of the greatest restrictor plate racers of all-time has to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jr did struggle in both the Budweiser Shootout and in his Gatorade Dual but he is so good at Daytona no matter how good or bad his speed weeks has been. So now folks may harp on this young man because of his lack of success he has had the last three seasons in the Sprint Cup Series but you always know that Daytona can be good for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jr won the Daytona 500 back in 2004 and he has been constantly running in the top 10 each time he has ran in the 500. Dale Jr has four top 10's in the last six years so you have to count on Junior to be a favorite to win the Daytona 500.
Jimmie was involved in a practice crash on Wednesday which made the 48 Lowe's team go to a backup car for Thursday Gatorade Dual. Jimmie started in the back on the race but at the end of the race, Jimmie Johnson held off Kevin Harvick in a classic finish to win the Gatorade Dual. Jimmie Johnson has been so good in these restrictor plate races the last couple of seasons because he knows when to make his move to the front and he knows how to win these big races. Fans may or may not like Jimmie because of his quiet personality but man he does know how to drive a racecar and he knows how to win these historical races. Jimmie Johnson has won a Daytona 500 back in 2006 but he is a hit or miss pick at Dayton these last couple of years by having three top 5 finishes but he does have 2 dnf's as well. So now folks may go with Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, or Dale Jr but folks if you count out Jimmie Johnson this weekend, then you maybe in for a rude awaking.
Now I know people may think that I am an absolute nut case for even mentioning this guy's name as a favorite to win the Daytona 500 but folks if you look at his stats in this race, then you too would have to at least consider him as a favorite. Last season was a dreadful year for Sadler but he did finish 4th in the Daytona 500 and that really wasn't even a surprise because Elliott Sadler has finished in the top 10 five times in the last six years. Sadler is back in a Ford where he had so much success in 2004 and 2005 when he drove for Robert Yates Racing so the guy knows how to go fast in a Ford. People know that this race can produce a surprise winner but this maybe the year that Elliott Sadler surprises us all by winning the Daytona 500.