The Great American Race is coming to your local Fox station on Sunday, but I will not be around to see it. In any case, here are my picks for what will be a great race, if the Gatorade Duels and overall qualifying are any indicator.
Front-runner: Jimmie Johnson won his Gatorade Duel on Thursday, giving him a starting position of 3rd. He is the four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion and won the Daytona 500 in 2006. A good finish by Johnson will go a long way to defend his title this year, and I believe he will have a good finish this weekend.
Bringing Up the Rear: Front Row Motorsports is fielding three full-time cars this season, the most they have ever fielded. They have also changed manufacturers to Ford, with engines from Roush-Yates engines. They also have new drivers in Travis Kvapil, Kevin Conway (rookie), Robert Richardson Jr. (part time), and David Gilliland (part time with Front Row, maybe to BAM?). With all of this change, the learning curve for this revamped team will be immense. All three cars have been well off the pace of the other cars locked in this week, so do not expect much in the coming race.
Close, But No Cigar: Mark Martin will start from pole on Sunday, and will likely be running at the front again this weekend. He has finished 2nd at Daytona so many times, I’ve even lost track. Once again, Mark Martin will be a bridesmaid, not a bride by finishing 2nd banana at Daytona.
Victory Circle: Everyone’s favorite driver will be back in victory lane. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be back in the saddle, and starting 2nd. Junior has a spectacular record on the restrictor plate tracks, so expect no less on Sunday. He will win the Daytona 500 again.
The next race after the Great American Race will be the Auto Club 500 on Sunday February 21st on Fox.