Coke Zero Sugar 400 Preview By Sir Holden Asworth

FirstAndMonday’s

Summer Daytona Preview

by Sir Holden Asworth

 

Dale Jr described it perfectly – the July race at Daytona is the fun one.

Night racing, pack racing, all-out speed, a slick racing surface, the summer heat and a healthy dose of freedom. That’s what makes this round at Daytona somuch fun. No pressures of the first race of the season, but all of the things that make this monster of a track awesome. It’s a track where your qualifying position takes a backseat to the size of the balls you bring with you into the car. A track where running within 1 inch of the other cars all around you is mandatory to get to the front. A track that’s both created and killed legends in the literal sense.

This iteration will be an interesting one. With only a small handful of drivers collecting wins – of which Harvick and Kyle Busch have accounted for 10 of the 18 races this season – there’s plenty of opportunity for the winless and struggling to sneak through. Last night’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona was almost this, as veterans Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney’s battle on the frontstretch allowed rookie Justin Haley to pass them for the checkered flag – only to have the win stripped for passing below the yellow line, a big no-no at tracks like Daytona. Nonetheless, Daytona’s style of pack racing with drivers relying on being closer together for increased speed will allow the possibility of a new winner for 2018. It’s sure to be an exciting race regardless, and it’s a crowd favorite year after year.

Who to Watch:

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – not the guy that one thinks of as a consistent winner, but he’s strong on superspeedways and won this race last year (as well as a race at Talladega, where racing is similar). He starts 6th

Penske Racing – Brad Keselowski has been, consistently, one of the best restrictor place racers since the Earnhardt Jr “let’s win all the damn things at Daytona/Talladega” era. Joey Logano is regularly challenging for the lead at these tracks as well. Keselowski won this race in 2016, and both drivers start within the top-12.

Stewart-Haas Racing – Arguably the most powerful team from top to bottom this year. 2 of the 4 drivers have wins (7 of the 18 we’ve ran thus far), all 4 are in the top-16 of points – the threshold needed to qualify for the Playoffs. Out of SHR, Harvick and Bowyer are the only drivers starting in the top-10, but don’t be surprised to see the other two (Almirola and Kurt Busch) make their way through the pack towards the lead.

 

Starting Lineup:

Pos. Car Driver Team
1 9 Chase Elliott Hooters Chevrolet
2 88 Alex Bowman Axalta Chevrolet
3 2 Brad Keselowski Stars Stripes and Lites Ford
4 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet
5 4 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John’s Kickin’ Ranch Ford
6 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fifth Third Bank Ford
7 31 Ryan Newman Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Chevrolet
8 34 Michael McDowell K-LOVE Radio Ford
9 14 Clint Bowyer Rush Truck Centers Ford
10 3 Austin Dillon American Ethanol e15 Chevrolet
11 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
12 12 Ryan Blaney BodyArmor Ford
13 78 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota
14 42 Kyle Larson Credit One Bank Chevrolet
15 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota
16 62 Brendan Gaughan Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Chevrolet
17 11 Denny Hamlin FexEx Cares Toyota
18 24 William Byron # Liberty University Chevrolet
19 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Military Chevrolet
20 6 Trevor Bayne Performance Plus Ford
21 38 David Ragan Shriners Hospital For Children Ford
22 43 Bubba Wallace # U.S. Air Force Chevrolet
23 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford
24 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet
25 37 Chris Buescher Kleenex Wet Wipes Chevrolet
26 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford
27 1 Jamie McMurray DC Solar Chevrolet
28 95 Kasey Kahne Thorne Wellness Chevrolet
29 20 Erik Jones buyatoyota.com Toyota
30 21 Paul Menard Menards/Moen Ford
31 32 Matt DiBenedetto Zynga Poker Ford
32 19 Daniel Suarez ARRIS Toyota
33 15 Ross Chastain Caddy’s Beach Bar Restaurants Chevrolet
34 7 Jeffrey Earnhardt Nine Line Foundation Chevrolet
35 96 DJ Kennington Lordco/Castrol/Spectra Premium Toyota
36 00 Joey Gase Sparks Inc. Chevrolet
37 99 Landon Cassill Star Com Fiber Chevrolet
38 72 Corey LaJoie Dragonchain Chevrolet
39 51 Ray Black II Prefund Capital/Jacob Companies Chevrolet
40 23 JJ Yeley Steakhouse Elite Toyota
FTQ 92 Timothy Peters Advance Auto Parts/Black’s Tire Ford

 

When to Watch:

Saturday Night, 7:30pm on NBC and MRN Radio

Why to Watch:

Action-packed, full-speed racing that’s sure to generate plenty of excitement and opportunities for intense racing. The above gif is from the 2015 race.

 

 

 

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