I think things are going to start heating up in the Sprint Cup Series as we are now only nine races away from the start of the Chase. Right now we have ten different winners, so that leaves six spots up to the point standings. As of right now Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne would be on the outside looking in, so they have some work to do. If we get a couple of new winners over the next nine races there will only be four spots available for those trying to qualify on points. That is why wins are so important at this stage of the game.
This week the series heads back to Daytona International Speedway for another Saturday night race and the third restrictor plate race of the season. Like always, these races can be one by any driver that starts from any position and stays out of trouble early in the race. That means another Chase spot can go to anyone this week. I caution those of you in the Yahoo league to pick your drivers carefully this week as this race is just a crap shoot.
COKE ZERO 400
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: I am picking Dale to come away with his third victory of the season this week at Daytona. He won the Daytona 500 this year and has finished first or second in three of his last five point races at this track. This team is hitting on all cylinders right now and has proven they know how to get the job done at the restrictor plate tracks as well as all other tracks on the circuit.
Matt Kenseth: Matt has always run well at the restrictor plate tracks and will be in contention once again this weekend if he can avoid trouble early in the race. That includes on the track, pit road, and mechanically. I think most of his poor finishes are the result of mechanical issues and there isn’t anything the driver can do about that. However, he proved how in tune with his car is last week when he realized he had a tire going down and made it to pit road before it could blow out on him and that saved him a top five finish.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin is another driver that always seems to be in contention at the end in these races. He usually rides around at the back of the pack early in the race to avoid trouble and then comes from the back to the front in the last twenty laps or so. The way he has performed this year, and all of the fast cars he has had makes me believe that he will have a shot at another win this weekend.
Jeff Gordon: Jeff has put together a very nice season so far and has won six points races at Daytona during his career. Jeff seems to know who he drafts well with before the race starts and finds those drivers when he really needs them late in these races. Watch some of the practice sessions next week and see who Jeff picks to run with in the drafting session. He will find that same driver during the race and move to the front of the field with them.
Jimmie Johnson: Let’s not forget about Jimmie Johnson. With three victories already this season we know that this team has nothing to lose by going for the win this weekend. he is guaranteed a spot in the Chase and would like to get a few more wins to pad his points once the Chase starts. He has won three points races at Daytona, and Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are the only active drivers with more career victories at Daytona than Jimmie who is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip with those three wins.
Tony Stewart: As I just mentioned, Tony has won four points races at Daytona during his career and will be going all out to secure his spot in the Chase this weekend. This team has had an up and down year so far, but I think they have turned the corner and are now on the upswing. This is the type of race that Tony can win if he stays clean early on during the race and I believe he will be another driver that runs at the back of the pack for the majority of the race before making his move at the end.
Michael Waltrip: I believe Michael will be coming out of semi-retirement once again this week to give Daytona another shot. Michael runs all of the restrictor plate races during the season, and why not? He has three wins in point races at Daytona and has shown that he knows how to draft to get his car to the front of the pack. He will also ride around at the back of the pack until late in the race when he will joint the rest of the drivers at the back and make the move to the front and go for the win.
Jamie McMurray: Jamie has won two points races at Daytona during his career and always seems to have a great car here. However, something disastrous seems to happen to him during the race. Whether it be a mechanical problem or getting caught up in the big one, Jamie would like a little more luck on his side as he tries to get a win in a points race so he can qualify for the Chase.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has never won a points race at Daytona or Talladega, but he has been very good at both tracks amassing twenty-six top ten finishes in fifty-four starts. Eventually he will break into the win column at both of these tracks because he runs at the front of the pack more often than not.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Matt Kenseth
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Aric Almirola
- David Ragan
- Jamie McMurray
- Brian Vickers
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Michael Waltrip
- Trevor Bayne
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Matt Kenseth
- Jeff Gordon
- Kurt Busch
- Tony Stewart
Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray
Stay Away From: Clint Bowyer