As noted sports analyst Dick Vitale would say, “Coast to Coast, Baby!” This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup moves from the rolling hills of the Sonoma Valley to the beautiful beaches of Daytona, Florida for the Coke Zero 400 (broadcast begins at 4:30 pm EDT on SPEED with NASCAR Raceday, followed by Countdown to Green on TNT at 6:30 pm. The green flag drops at approximately 7:45 pm on TNT). This day to night race under the lights will be the third installment of the two-car tango like the Daytona 500 and current races at Talladega, where you will see teammates and non-teammates alike working together (one car pushing another seems to be the fastest combination in the draft right now, with the pair swapping lead from time to time to prevent the rear car from overheating). You will also see if Jimmy Johnson makes good on his promise from Talladega and sticks with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr as a drafting partner.
Some big questions tonight: Who will get caught in the big one? Will Joey Logano sweep this weekend after last night’s Nationwide series win? Will Trevor Bayne make a triumphant finish after his win at Daytona back in February? Will Tony Stewart make good on his promise from last week’s race to push anyone around that gets in his way? And perhaps the biggest question… Will Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finally break his three year winless streak? We will all be watching for it and I will be watching the race the Daytona International Speedway. So, look for me in my Sports-Glutton.com t-shirt, and follow my race updates on Twitter (click here)
I’ll start with this – take a look at my post from the Daytona 500 and Talladega for the two-car tandem writings for previews and information about the racing draft at Daytona. But onto tonights race:
Best Bets: First off is Team Hendrick. All of the Hendrick cars will start within the top ten tonight. Expect the Coors Light Pole sitter Mark Martin (#5 Carquest/GoDaddy.com Chevy) and Jeff Gordon (#24 Pepsi Max Chevy) starting fourth, to team up, as well as the aforementioned Earnhardt Jr (#88 National Guard Heritage/Amp Energy Chevy)/Jimmy Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Summer SaluteChevy) combination. Between Rick Hendrick’s four drivers there are nine total wins between them, not to mention thirty-five top-fives. So, expect any one of them to take the checkered flag. Oh, and by the way, Johnson will be right behind Jr from the start, as Jr’s sixth and JJ’s eighth when we get rolling.
Probables: Kevin Harvick (#29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevy–BTW, check out his paint scheme!!)–Happy’s got two wins here, and is itching for another one; he’ll likely link up with teammate Clint Bowyer (#33 Wheaties Fuel Chevy)…Harvick has two wins, he was ninth in practice and may start thirty-first, but he’ll likely stalk from the back to avoid any big wrecks. Kurt Busch (#22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge)–really kicked butt during Speed Weeks (won the Shootout and Duel 1), but couldn’t finish the job in the ’500 (finished fifth); he starts twenty-fifth and was third in practice.
Dark Horses: Gotta include Trevor Bayne (#21 Motorcraft/Quick Land Auto & Tire Center Ford)– After his unlikely win at Daytona in February, he’s got some proving to do now that he’s back on the track after illness; he’s got a good start, since he’s on the outside of the front row for the start of the race, and was only thirty-fourth in practice. AJ Allmendinger (#43 U.S. Air Force Ford)–Dinger’s got some proving to do as well…he’s been knocking on the door a couple of times this season; he’s finished in the top-eleven in the last two superspeedway races, rolls off ninth and was second in final practice.
Shoutouts: I’ve got to put closure on my comments from last week’s shoutout on TNT’s horrible coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races… I did a little record-keeping. For the first couple of hours, TNT managed to have about nearly equal time between race coverage and commercials. Many folks on Twitter were also keeping score. As the race dragged on (yeah, it was a little boring, with the exception of Tony Stewart’s wreck into the wall and subsequent challenge to wreck anyone who blocks him), the commercials were spaced out a little better, where there would be even up to (gasp) twelve minutes of continuous race coverage (get out the Emmy nominations!) Not to mention the worst directing, with barely any of the leaders covered during the race (despite the seemingly run-away win by Kurt Busch). Granted, it may be a little more challenging on a road course, but there are few excuses. Get it together, space out your commercials better, and fire your director!!! Tweeps, keep score for me this week!!
Off to the track….hope to see you out there!!!