Jul 3, 2014; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon (24) during practice for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
The return visit to Daytona is a welcomed site as summer is in full swing with the celebration of the birth of the United States throughout this great country.
Hopefully, by the time the dust has settled over Daytona, we can quote a goal by the British World Cup announcer in saying, “That was an absolute firecracker”.
Only one practice for the Saturday Night Special is in the books due to the weather that might play a role on Saturday night, boo!
Two-time Daytona winner Jamie McMurray led the first practice session at Daytona and has to be a threat to take the checkers. Since Ganassi Racing switched from their own power plants to Hendrick power last year, the dividends are paying off for both Kyle Larson and McMurray, proving they can run up front. McMurray’s stats for the last five years are one win, one top five and two top 10s. Jamie finished 11th at Daytona earlier this year, and his price on most fantasy teams should be an incentive.
Here are Thursday’s fastest practice speeds:
Jeff Gordon posted the fifth-best practice speed, and he leads all active drivers with six wins, as well as leading all active drivers with seven top-10 finishes for the July Daytona race. Gordon finished fourth at this year’s Daytona 500, and he has the seventh best driver rating at Daytona. Jeff’s stats the past five years are two top fives and three top 10s.
The top 10 starting spots produce the most wins in 55 July races, with eight winners coming from the pole and seven from the second starting spot. Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with 18 wins, followed by Ford with 16.
Tony Stewart won the 2012 July race from as far back as 42nd starting spot; now Tony is one of the best restrictor plate racers, ever.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 500 earlier this year, but it seemed like he gave up on Talledega, trying to avoid the big one. I don’t know how he’s going to race Saturday night since he has two wins and is in the Chase, but I hope it’s like the D 500.
This race is a crap shoot where anything goes, but there is a pattern developing at Daytona since the primitive tandem racing on superspeedways has ceased. The drivers that know how to run in the wind are rising to the top.
Here are my Ice Picks for the Coke Zero 400:
Jeff Gordon- can get it done with his seventh best driver rating for Daytona.
Kevin Harvick- has the seventh best average the past five years with one win, two top fives and five top 10s.
Dale Earnhardt Jr- has the best stats the past five years.
Jamie McMurray- fastest in first practice and has Hendrick power.
Tony Stewart- has dominated the July race in the past and leads all active drivers in laps lead for the July race with 366 laps led.
Brad Keselowski- finished third earlier this year and seeking his first Daytona win.
Joey Logano-should improve on his eleventh place finish earlier this year.
Austin Dillon- been improving lately and has the right equipment.
It’s a Saturday Night Special on TNT. My picks are based on who’s going to give you the most points. I never pick winners and if they do win, it’s a bonus. Like us on Facebook and follow stockcarspin.com on Twitter. Check out all the Fansided sports section for your favorite stick and ball sports. Good Luck! @JoeIcemanNieves