Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Daytona 500 Preview

This is, as they say, the Super Bowl of NASCAR.  The Daytona 500.  You win here, you're set for life.  Derrike Cope would not be Derrike Cope if not for his Daytona 500 win.  It took 20 years for Dale Earnhardt to win this race and it was so special because he knew how important this race is.  Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett will tell you how much it means to them to have won this race multiple times.  The history of this race is unparalleled in NASCAR.  Lee Petty.  Richard Petty.  David Pearson.  "The Fight."  Last lap passes and so much more.  Tomorrow, the season begins with the most prestigious race.  It doesn't get any better than that.

To me, this will be last Daytona 500 of its kind.  The Car of Tomorow is set to run here starting in 2008.  This could be the last restrictor plate race of its kind with a smaller car.  On a more somber note, tomorrow will also be the 6th year since Dale Earnhardt died here.  It's impossible not to think of him at this place. 

The 2007 Daytona 500 just seems to be Tony Stewart's time.  His destiny in 2005 was to win the Brickyard 400 and the Championship and he accomplished both.  He won the Bud Shootout and a qualifying race so far this week and could add a Busch race before the day is done.  I (and many others) just feel like this race will be Tony's to lose.  However, I am keeping my eye on the #2 Dodge of Kurt Busch.  He looks like he could be a real threat.  For sentimental reasons I'd like to see the #01 of Mark Martin find a way to take the checkers.  Two more guys I'd keep my eye on are the #42 of Juan Pablo Montoya and the #17 of Matt Kenseth.  Montoya impressed the hell out of me by leading the 2nd duel until a suspension piece broke on his car.  No rookie has won this race, yet two could - Montoya and David Gilliland.  Kenseth will be a factor in the front of the field and his help could put one of these guys in victory lane, if not himself.  Sunday at 2.  The most-watched race of the year will be this one.  Enjoy the race, everyone.

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