WHERE: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
TRACK Type: 2.5-mile paved, high-banked oval
RACE Distance: 200 laps, 500 miles
WEATHER: High in the low 70s with 40 percent chance of thunderstorms.
TV: Coverage begins at noon on Fox. Green flag is 1:29 p.m.
Things to watch
1 Danica Patrick became the first woman to win the pole in a Sprint Cup race. Last season, she wrecked out in the early-going.
2 It’s been a while since Jimmie Johnson has found success on a restrictor-plate track, but perhaps today can be a turnaround. It is his 400th Cup start.
3 This could be Mark Martin’s final Daytona 500. A win in it is one of two missing lines on his NASCAR resume. A championship is the other.
• Not five minutes had passed since Patrick won the pole for the 500 when media members began chiming in on what it would mean for NASCAR, including a sellout of the race and the highest TV ratings in history. Neither is likely to happen. When it doesn’t, those same media will then write how expectations weren’t met. Whose expectations? Only their own. The biggest problem in NASCAR is media members — and sometimes the sanctioning body — overpromising on noteworthy events. Let’s let them unfold and then offer an analysis after the fact based on results.
• There was lots of talk about how the racing in today’s 500 will look based on what was seen in the Sprint Unlimited and in Thursday’s qualifying. None of those, however, had full fields of cars — the key to developing anything close to real “pack” racing. If the same complaints are heard after the 500 is over, then there may be cause for concern.
• Only 34 of the 43 teams elected to participate in Saturday’s final Cup practice before today’s Daytona 500, but of those who did Dale Earnhardt Jr. led with a lap at 198.592 mph. David Gilliland was second-fastest, Clint Bowyer was third, Marcos Ambrose was fourth and Aric Almirola fifth.
The Charlotte Observer