With Heavy Hearts, Drivers vow safety first as they race in the Daytona 500
In short, the Daytona 500 will go on.
As I watch an extended version of NASCAR Raceday on SPEED, the talk is all about Danica. The last poll was "Will she lead a lap in the Daytona 500?" and the response was 64% yes. I'm dumbfounded. I suppose there is a possibility she can stay out during a caution flag and lead a lap, but I honestly do not believe she has the talent to stay up front and lead a lap, regardless of starting on the front row. After all, she has Jeff Gordon starting right beside her. That man does have the experience to get around the track and do so better than others. He will lead the first lap.
Tony Stewart actually won the Nationwide race yesterday, but his win and matching of Dale Sr's wins in the event at seven, was certainly overshadowed by the wreck. He gets to hang out with AJ Foyt today, his hero, so perhaps that will be the good luck charm he needs for the win. Kevin Harvick has son, Keelan, to drool on his steering wheel prior to the race; that is his good luck charm.
What have we learned so far about the new Gen6 car? What can we expect in this race?
Well, firstly, the "two car tandem" is pretty much no more. We may see two cars join up and race to get to the front, but it won't be for extended laps. The pack racing, the very dangerous pack racing, is back. Fortunately, the best of the best are on the track for this race, and hopefully these drivers will drive like they are the best of the best. We don't need showboating or risks. Safety first.
As Chad Knaus pointed out, side drafting with this car is a big deal. We should see drivers using the side draft a lot, to speed their own car up, while slowing the car they are drafting off of. Who will best figure out the best way to use the side draft remains to be seen.
What are the predictions for today's race? I honestly predict a safe one. The wreck yesterday was a huge eye opener to the drivers. The only reason we had as few injuries as we did is because the seats were not as full as they will be for today's race. Today, all of those empty seats we saw in the videos and many pictures posted online will be full. Daytona has no intentions to change those seats. Those fans who have purchased those seats want to be safe. I think the drivers want them to be safe. Although we will undoubtedly see wrecks, and perhaps even a "Big One", I predict the drivers will be driving with a little more thought for the fans' safety today.
Who do you predict to win? Honestly, for me, I believe Dale Earnhardt Jr. has one of the fastest cars on the track, and he is one helluva a talented driver. I believe he will get to the front and try to stay there all day. I believe he can do it. Of course, there are 42 other talented drivers on the track, and Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and certainly, Kevin Harvick are going to prove to be some very stiff competition. But I believe Dale Jr can get it done.
What about you? Who do YOU think will win the race?