Every year the journalist, pundits and fans, with not enough to do, come up with their predictions of who will win the Daytona 500. Frankly it’s a hollow exercise.
The Daytona 500 is one of two-restrictor plate racing tracks on NASCAR’s schedule; the other is Talladega, the famed Alabama track.
Despite the rule changes for 2015, Daytona and Talladega wont be subject to them, apart from bending the fender skirts out to achieve any aerodynamic advantage. It’s disallowed and the outlawed practice will be monitored by a new sophisticated video monitoring system
This means the same show we’ve seen since NASCAR restricted the engines. Pack racing.
So what are we to make of the predictions we’ve seen from NASCAR’s ranking system? Not much other than we know the top teams will have the best equipment and will have the greatest chance of victory.
If you look at NASCAR’s ranking system of the top ten driver ratings at Daytona it does have a reasonable algorithmic feel. About ten steps above Facebook’s timeline news feed.
It’s still worthy of consideration but leaves out a few drivers that have shown, so far, that they have more than just a chance. NASCAR’s rankings are legitimate, but don’t take the element of luck into consideration. You cannot leave out the looming ‘Big One’, or two
Kurt Busch is in NASCAR’s top ten, but let’s face it, he has to go for it harder than a gazelle with a Somalian Cheetah chasing him.
He may have restrictive order against him, but that won’t get him fired. If the District Attorney in Maryland files criminal charges against him, Stewart–Haas Racing has a contingency plan. It’s called “You’re Fired”! Fear is a great motivator.
Carl Edwards showed himself to be a hard charger in the Unlimited but he’s still getting used to working with his team. It won’t take him 500 miles to figure that out. He has more than a shot at the 500.
Marin Truex, Jr also showed his skills in the Unlimited with both speed and race craft. Don’t rule him out, rule him in as a distinct possibility.
Kyle Larson isn’t on the list but has every bit a chance to win as Danica Patrick, probably more so but she too could pick up her first win at the famed oval.
Brad Keselowski doesn’t appear on the list. Perhaps his aggressive nature is to blame, but frankly, if you’re going to race at the top level, then I frankly don’t want to see a Tupperware party but a driver who will go for any spot that he can. Keselowski has every skill to win this race.
Tomorrows (Thursday) Duals will tell more about what we may see in the 500 based on the way the Duals are lined up this year.
3 drivers in the first Dual and 3 drivers in the second Dual have to race their way in. Out of all 6 drivers Ryan Blaney, in my opinion, has the best chance of racing his way in. Virtually all of the other drivers have got a great chance of making the show. 13 of them are locked in by way of points, provisional or front row locks, etc.
It’s the drivers who are desperate, are having problems during the race and have to defend or those that simply feel that starting near the front is going to be of some great advantage over those who pose the biggest risk of knocking out potential contenders in a catastrophic crash.
It’s a 500 mile race that if you make the show, you have a shot. Luck truly plays a huge role in this race and having steady information delivered during the Duals as to where everyone is has paramount importance to several of the drivers. Dale Earnhardt, Jr is among them having been disqualified from the group qualifying.
The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s biggest race of the year and 2015 is no different. It needs to show who really has done their homework with a race set-up that will evolve throughout the event.
A lot of press has been given to the ‘Knockout Group Qualifying’, much more than in years past so the big question is: Whose going to win the Daytona 500?
NASCAR, that’s who.