Daytona 500 Qualifying
On Saturday, Mark Martin became the oldest driver to land the pole for the 500. He is joined by his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the front row, and four other Chevys filled out the Top 10. Looking back at my predictions I called the front row of the 5 and 39, who ended up first and third, but when you predict Hendrick engines at Daytona it is hard to do wrong. Penske had a strong showing with all three of their Dodges in the top 15.
When it comes to actually making the show for the cars outside the Top 35, there were not many surprises either. I had predicted the 21, 71, 87, and 51 to be the quickest four from that group and if Scott Speed had not have clocked in 13th overall I would have hit the nail on the head. Looking ahead to Thursday I will go with Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart for the wins and for the final cars getting in I will say: Michael Waltrip and Max Papis in Race 1 and Scott Speed and Aric Almirola in Race 2. That would leave the last 4 spots to: 21, 87, 71, and 36 of Mike Bliss. It is Daytona so anything can happen.
Well Danica assured me that she can drive a stock car. Congratulations go out to Bobby Gerhart on the win, although it seemed as though 98% of the media does not care about that. The race itself was as expected, which was a wreck-fest. Two bad looking crashes occurred but both drivers were able to walk away from their cars under their own power.
If I am not mistaken, there were no green flag lead changes. James Buescher led until he pitted and Gerhart led to end. For the cars with the current aero package, track position was crucial and if the car held the yellow line there was no getting around you. Alli Owens had a Top 5 going, and looked to be the top female of the day, until she got shuffled back at the end. Danica had one spin, not of her own doing, and kept the bumpers clean to come home in 6th, after a frantic rush towards the front at the end. It will remain to be seen how she will perform as the competition increases around her and the competitor?s cars are more aptly funded, but Danica did not disappoint on her first shot in a stock car.
Kevin Harvick showed that practice is not necessary to succeed at Daytona, just a good engine. Looking back at the race as a whole, Roush, Earnhardt-Ganassi, and RCR looked to be the best with Stewart also mixing it up at the front. Left to be seen at the front was the Chevys of Hendrick and the Toyotas of Gibbs. Both teams had cars in the Top 5 at time but neither organization seemed to have the power to take it to the lead. Even though I am saying this, I will not count out either team for the Twins or the 500.
The two points of interest that occurred during the race occurred in the final two laps. There seemed to be a discrepancy between the entry blank and the rules used for the race, resulting in the checkered being thrown under yellow flag conditions. Something happened there and I really hope NASCAR did not mess up the ending and not realize it until after the end. During SPEED?s Victory Lane coverage NASCAR said the rules package was the same as any other regular race. The other note was what caused the caution to end the race. NASCAR threw out the rules and are letting the drivers police themselves.
It was hard to tell what happened going into turn 3 but I want to believe that Biffle did lose the right rear tire. The 24 was right at the bumper of the 16 when the 16 went around collecting the entire high lane. Biffle said after the race he thought he had a tire going down but could not say for sure. On another note, my prediction of Jeff Burton was pretty far off, even before the tire issues mid-race. Either way looking back at the race as a whole, I am very encouraged to think that the races at through the weekend will be more competitive than the ARCA race on last Saturday.
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