Daytona 500 2013: Predicting the Podium Finishers in Key NASCAR Race

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIFebruary 19, 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, poses with team owner Tony Stewart holding the Coors Light Poll Award after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The 2013 Daytona 500 will take place this weekend, and there is already plenty of anticipation and excitement brewing over NASCAR's most prestigious event of the year.

Danica Patrick became the first woman in history to achieve the pole position of the race, but will she be able to go on and become the first female winner of the event also? If not, who will be challenging her quest to clinch her first victory in NASCAR?

Read on to see how the placings could unfold after a busy day of racing, with our full predictions for the 2013 Daytona 500 podium.

Third Place: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The legendary racer qualified 11th for the prestigious race with a somewhat sluggish performance that Earnhardt himself wasn't happy with (per AOL Sporting News).

However, Junior did suggest that his car would be able to go much faster come race time, and that he will be a genuine challenger once more.

11th is a long way back in the field, and he might have some trouble getting all the way to first place, but he should be good to make the podium from there.

Second Place: Tony Stewart

Stewart-Haas Racing made plenty of noise during qualifying with Danica Patrick, but Stewart himself qualified well earning the fifth spot overall and will be in a good position to come up with a great finish there.

He has a quality team working for him here and has the experience necessary to seriously be competitive here, though I can't quite see him coming across the line first in this one.  I'd say Stewart leads, but loses the lead in the final hour or so, and does well to hold off Earnhardt Jr. for second.

First Place: Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon qualified second behind Patrick during qualifying and finds himself in a great spot on the grid to get into the lead of this race nice and early.

Gordon is only one of three drivers ever to win the Daytona 500 three times in his career, and the experience and knowledge that the 41-year-old veteran has could prove to be the difference here.

With Earnhardt Jr. starting from a long way back in the race, Gordon could find himself in the lead and able to get some assistance from his teammate here. And if that's the case, this one could be all over very quickly with the veteran leaping out to a comfortable lead.

Even if that doesn't happen, I still see him winning this one.

Who do you think will finish on the podium at the 2013 Daytona 500?

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