|Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will have to qualify Friday to make race|
Some marquee drivers fired off a few verbal salvos during post-race interviews at Infineon on Sunday, leading to amped up interest – and intensity – going into the often rugged night race at Daytona International Speedway.
A few of the fresh grudge matches: Tony Stewart vs. Brian Vickers; Brad Keselowski vs. Juan Pablo Montoya; Kasey Kahne vs. Montoya. Tack that onto the slow simmer of Kyle Busch vs. defending race champion Kevin Harvick, and this Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola doubles in drama.
This weekend’s night racing action begins on Friday night with the NASCAR Nationwide Series race – the Subway Jalapeno 250.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has one more open week before hitting to Kentucky Speedway on July 7.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
Race To The Chase
Only 10 races remain before the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set. In other words, it’s go-time.
Aside from the built-in importance of this upcoming portion of the schedule, the 10 tracks which make up the “Race to the Chase” are some of the most unique and historic in NASCAR.
Consider a few: Daytona International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen International, Bristol Motor Speedway and, the final stop, the Chase cut-off race at Richmond International Raceway.
Winners List Expands With Busch Win
Kurt Busch’s win at Infineon Raceway grew the balanced victors list to 11 different winners in the first 16 races. That’s the most different winners through 16 races since 2003.
Busch checked off the elusive “road-course win” from his list, and now looks to nab a restrictor-plate race win – also a style he has yet to conquer in a points event.
His best finish at Daytona was second in the 2003, ’05 and ’08 Daytona 500s. He won this year’s preseason Gatorade Duel at Daytona and Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.
Wild Weekend For Wild Cards
Marquee drivers up-and-down the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will likely need a Wild Card nod to make the Chase.
After race No. 26 at Richmond, the top 10 drivers in points are locked into the 12-driver Chase field. Spots 11 and 12 go to those drivers outside the top 10 with the most wins, provided they are in the top 20.
Currently, Denny Hamlin, in 11th, would grab the first Wild Card spot, with his lone victory (at Michigan).
Two other drivers outside the top 10 have wins: Brad Keselowski and Regan Smith, but both are outside the top 20. Keselowski sits 22nd, 12 points outside the top 20. Smith is 28th, 59 points out of the top 20.
Add Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart to the “Wild Card Watch” this weekend. Both have multiple wins at Daytona, and both are outside the top 10.
New Surface, Big Competition
Saturday’s race will be the first Daytona night race run on the new surface. If the first Daytona 500 run on the new surface is any indication, it could be a record-setting event.
Two major track records were broken during the Daytona 500. There were 74 lead changes and 22 leaders in February, the most ever at DIS. The highs for a 400-miler at Daytona: 49 lead changes (1974) and 18 leaders (2010).
Triumphant Daytona Return For Bayne…Maybe
Just over four months ago, Trevor Bayne made history. In becoming the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500, Bayne immediately etched his name in NASCAR lore.
But this weekend, he may not even be in the race.
Bayne’s Wood Brothers team, which competes in a partial schedule, ranks 36th in owner points – outside the top 35, which would guarantee Bayne a spot in Saturday night’s event.
He’ll have to race his way in during Friday’s qualifying session.
- NASCAR Media Services