Sports

Daytona 500 favorite? It's anyone's guess

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - There doesn't seem to be a trendy pick to win the Daytona 500.

Sure, former winners Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart are getting some attention. And it's hard to count out the last three 500 champions - Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick.

But since no one has really dominated Speedweeks like in previous years, opinions have varied as to who could end up celebrating in Victory Lane on Sunday.

"We've got as good a car as anybody," said pole-sitter Mark Martin, winless in 25 Daytona 500 starts. "Anybody can win this thing. It might as well be us."

Driver Carl Edwards called AJ Allmendinger a dark horse.

"They were unreal the other day in that Gatorade race," Edwards said Friday. "That'd be my pick for the guy to surprise everyone."

Allmendinger finished third in last year's Daytona 500, so he's not really a big reach. Kasey Kahne, though, had some more surprising choices. He said Sam Hornish Jr., Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose were three of the fastest in his qualifying race.

"It seemed like those guys were all pretty good," Kahne said.

Edwards and Kahne agreed, though, that no one should overlook Johnson. The four-time defending series champion won a qualifying race despite being in a backup car and driving the final few laps on older tires than just about everyone else.

But Kahne had another favorite.

"You never count out Jimmie, so that's one," Kahne said. "Kurt Busch, to me, was the best car out of every car in both races. I thought Kurt was the fastest car, and Stewart is there every week and he's there every Daytona 500. He hasn't won one, so you know he's going to be right in the mix."

Ford power. Ford drivers Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler and Bill Elliott will be racing the company's new FR9 engine in the Daytona 500. The other 10 Fords in the field will run the older 452 model.

This will mark the second straight restrictor-plate race that Kenseth will run the FR9. Kenseth and David Ragan debuted the engine at Talladega last fall. Ragan also used the new engine in the season finale.

Rain forces postponement of trucks race at Daytona. NASCAR officials postponed the Camping World Trucks race Friday night at Daytona International Speedway because of rain. The race was rescheduled for 7 p.m. today.

Heavy showers washed out all at-track activity at Daytona on Friday, including Sprint Cup series practice and Nationwide series qualifying. Kyle Busch will start on the pole for today's Nationwide race, and Danica Patrick will start 15th. Jason White won the pole position for the truck race in qualifying Thursday.

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