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NASCAR: Race Day Is Finally Here!

Daytona PreSeason Thunder is in the books, Kevin Harvick has won The Sprint Unlimited. All of the activities are over with, and it’s time to buckle up for some racing that counts for something in the 2013 season. The Budweiser Duel 150’s are on tap today with the broadcast getting underway at 2:00 PM Eastern on The Speed Channel. Danica Patrick will take the pack to the Green Flag in the first race, Jeff Gordon leads the field in the second race.

Danica Patrick set a record on Sunday afternoon for being the first female driver to sit on a pole for the All American Race in NASCAR History. Her boss at Stewart-Haas Racing won this race last year, and will be right behind her today when the green flag hits the air. 2011 Daytona 500 winner, Trevor Bane will be on the outside poll in the Wood Brothers infamous #21 Ford Fusion. Patrick started on the pole in last years Drive$COPD 400 which was won by James Buescher in the Nationwide race. Matt Kenseth won the second duel in 2012, and went on to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

There will be a lot of Sprint Cup fire power lined up behind Danica in the first race, and I am wondering how long it will take for her to get out of the way and let the the boys race. You have to know Tony Stewart is wanting to put another Daytona trophy on his fireplace, so I don’t expect too much patience from the head man at SHR. As long as she can stay out front, she will be ok, as soon as she gets passed, she will head for the back to save that car, and insure she starts out front on Sunday.

Although the top tier teams that are gauranteed a spot in the 500 on Sunday would like to win these races, with the New Gen 6 car, and the shortage of parts, you may see them be a little less racy than normal. It’s to easy at the plate tracks to make up track position during the race, and where they actually begin on Sunday is not a big deal. We may be able to actually see the cars that need to race in, run up front. I think everyone will be protecting their cars in these races.

I’ve seen Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon go from the 30th position to the lead in less than four laps at Daytona. And after-all, Dale Earnhardt never like to qualify anyway, and usually qualified in race trim even in the days when they actually had qualifying engines. For the newer race fans: teams were allowed to have a special engine for qualifying which was changed out before the green flag without penalties. These engines were specifically built to run two laps wide open. They had lighter components that didn’t have to perform for 500 miles, and built just for qualifying.

Jeff Gordon has won the Daytona 500 three times, and has the pole for today’s second duel, as well as the outside pole for Sunday, providing he doesn’t tear up his car, and have to go to the rear. Gordon loves the fast tracks, and was a veteran at Daytona back in the days when he was young. He gave Dale Earnhardt fits in the late nineties, and now that he is in something besides the COT car, will quickly adapt to the style of racing from those days.

Drivers who were around in the so-called Gen 4 days have a distinct advantage not only at Daytona, but the rest of the tracks on the schedule. It should take them less time to get used to the new car, because they already know how the old-style racing worked. The younger guys will have to learn something new. Did I hear that Old DW was looking for a ride?

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Tags: Danica Patrick Jeff Gordon Matt Kenseth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Stewart-Haas Racing Tony Stewart

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