2013 Daytona 500: NASCAR Sprint Cup Starting Line-Up & Race Preview
By Mike Sulka
Three weekends ago was the annual Super Bowl, but today is the Super Bowl of racing! The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season series kicks off for the 55th time at the paved 2.5-mile d-shaped oval at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.
NASCAR has been running at the Florida-based circuit since 1959 when Lee Petty won the first event. While IndyCar's Indianapolis 500 and Formula 1's Monaco Grand Prix may be better known - and watched - world-wide, the is no question in the United States that the Daytona 500 is racing's biggest race of the year. And it is NASCAR's biggest race of the year.
Since 2000, only two drivers have won this event twice - Michael Waltrip (2001 & 2003) and Matt Kenseth (2009 & 2012). That's an amazing eleven different winners in the last thirteen races. If you are looking for an element of predictability, the Daytona 500 isn't it. There are few if any significant trends, other than... avoid the big one.
But we can predict this: 20-car pack finishes are back and mayhem is always lurking.
Among active drivers, Jeff Gordon has the most Daytona 500 wins with three. Gordon also has six career victories at the track out of 40 starts. Gordon has 6667 of 7062 laps completed for an amazing 94.4% at a track known for tearing up cars. But Gordon hasn't won at Daytona since 2005, and his best finish since then is a fifth place result in 2007.
Today, he starts on the front row. But...
When it comes to winning, it would seem Gordon's luck has run out and we'll have to look elsewhere.
Instead, Matt Kenseth has a 2012 Daytona 500 win, and third place run at the July Daytona event.
Could he do it again today ?
We're gonna say no.
So trying to find some trend to hang out hat on let's look at the 2013 results so far... Kevin Harvick won the Sprint Unlimited, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick won their qualifying Duels, and the Daytona 500 Pole went to Danica Patrick. Tony Stewart also won the NASCAR Nationwide race.
Our pick for today... Kevin Harvick. He's got the hot foot when it comes to victory, and he's won the July race twice. But he's never won a Daytona 500.
However, if Harvick falters or gets caught in the big-one, keep an eye on Dale Earnhardt Jr. We still believe that Junior can be a regular winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, if he can just find that something he's been missing in recent years. And if you'd like a statistic to back that up, Junior was the second best driver at Daytona in 2010 with a second place finish in the Daytona 500 and another second place finish at last year's Daytona 500.
So enjoy the race! Its going to be another close Daytona finish as the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events have already shown. Its money time now, and every driver wants this win.
May the best man - or woman - win!
Starting Line Up by Row
Daytona International Speedway
55th Annual Daytona 500
Pos Car Driver Team
Row 1: 1 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 45.817
2 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 45.924
Row 2: 3 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
4 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
Row 3: 5 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
6 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
Row 4: 7 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
8 33 Austin Dillon(i) Honeynut Cheerios Chevrolet
Row 5: 9 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
10 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota
Row 6: 11 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet
12 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota
Row 7: 13 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
14 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
Row 8: 15 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
16 27 Paul Menard Menards/Peak Chevrolet
Row 9: 17 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford
18 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
Row 10: 19 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
20 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
Row 11: 21 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
22 34 David Ragan Detail Doctor Ford
Row 12: 23 47 Bobby Labonte Kroger Toyota
24 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
Row 13: 25 38 David Gilliland Love's Travel Stops Ford
26 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford
Row 14: 27 87 Joe Nemechek(i) MaddiesPlaceRocks.com/D.A.B. Constructors
28 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Best Buy Ford
Row 15: 29 26 Michael Waltrip Sandy Hook School Support Fund Toyota
30 7 Dave Blaney Florida Lottery Chevrolet
Row 16: 31 95 Scott Speed Leavine Family Racing Ford
32 35 Josh Wise(i) MDS Transport Ford
Row 17: 33 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Time
34 39 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet Time
Row 18: 35 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota Time
36 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford Time
Row 19: 37 56 Martin Truex Jr NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Provisional
38 98 Michael McDowell K-Love/Curb Records Ford Provisional
Row 20: 39 32 Terry Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford Provisional
40 51 Regan Smith(i) Phoenix Construction Chevrolet Provisional
Row 21: 41 36 JJ Yeley Golden Corral Chevrolet Provisional
42 83 David Reutimann Burger King Toyota Provisional
Row 22: 43 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King Toyota Provisional
Did Not Qualify: #52 Brian Keselowski; #19 Mike Bliss(i).