Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 17 -- Daytona - the 2nd Time Around

The starting lineup for tonight’s Coke Zero 400 starts of with something old and something new on the front row as the Sprint Cup Tour begins the second half of the season as the road to Richmond becomes ever clearer. Cagey old veteran, Mark Martin sits on the pole while Trevor Bayne, the surprise winner of the Daytona 500 returns to the site of his triumph placing the “legendary” Wood Brothers #21 Ford on the outside pole. The top of the field overwhelmingly features Fords and Chevrolets down to #13 where Kasey Kahne starts the #4 Red Bull Toyota.

Top Starters:
1- Mark Martin (#6), Chevrolet
2- Trevor Bayne (#21), Ford
3- Clint Bowyer (#33), Chevrolet
4- Jeff Gordon (#24), Chevrolet
5- David Ragan (#6), Ford
6- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (#88), Chevrolet
7- Andy Lally (#71), Ford
8- Jimmie Johnson (#48), Chevrolet
9- A.J. Allmendinger (#43), Ford
10- Paul Menard (#27), Chevrolet
11- Ryan Newman (#39), Chevrolet
12- Jeff Burton (#31), Chevrolet
13- Kasey Kahne (#4), Toyota
14- Carl Edwards (#99), Ford
15- Marcos Ambrose (#9), Ford

Our predictions for the race, ARE YOU KIDDING? Sure there are drivers with a reputation for success at restrictor plate tracks but the summer Daytona race has a funny way of finding new winners. Just check with Jimmy Spencer and John Andretti. For those hoping for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to break his long draught, this could be the night or how about Mark Martin winning his first after a long career at Daytona?

The contentious slugs are well represented with Joe Nemechek, king of the slugs, adding a second ride for Kevin Conway, who will start 22nd but one wonders if he’ll still be on the track by lap 22. The dog’s master, Nemechek himself, starts dead last. While once again, the #37 Ford driven by Tony Raines, a sponsored ride intending to complete the race is sent home along with J.J. Yeley, a notorious quitter, also goes home but one wonders why such a trash heap would have shown up in the first place other than the easy money for making the field for doing nothing. Other likely quitters include the legendary blame someone else driver, Mike Skinner in 29th, Michael McDonald, the kid who cheated death qualifying at Texas a few years ago whose career is dead and his presence on the track is cheating the notion of sportsmanship in 33rd. What is Geoff Bodine doing coming out of retirement to star car 35 35th? He’ll probably drive off into the night when he should be working on his bob sleds. When the #7 shows up without owner Robby Gordon in the driver’s seat, tonight, Mike Bliss, that means a trip to the parking lot. The travesty of this is that the #7 car bumps Tony Raines on the basis of owner’s points. This is where it really starts to hurt. Naturally, we’ll be cheering for a nice big metal twisting wreck for these guys before they can slink off into the night and not even be mentioned for doing so by the play-by-play booth.

The weather for tonight’s race should be favorable, partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 70’s.


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