Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:48 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 5:02 pm

2012 Daytona 500 predictions

Daytona 500 Winner

Pete Pistone's pick

Kyle Busch -- I’ve been coming to Daytona since I was a kid and watching NASCAR racing pretty much my entire life. Never have I seen a display like the one Kyle Busch put on in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, saving his car three different times when it was completely sideways and somehow coming back from that shower of sparks to win the race. Say what you want about his personality or his behavior but it’s impossible to argue that Busch is one of the most talented drivers the sport has ever seen. He is very determined to put the controversy of last year behind and focus on winning races and the Sprint Cup championship in 2012. That quest begins this weekend and Busch will get the year off on the highest of notes with a win in “The Great American Race.”

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Carl Edwards -- I could really name just about any driver from the Roush Fenway camp as they've been very impressive during Speedweeks. Its drivers have been at or near the top of the speed charts during most practices, Edwards and his teammate Greg Biffle were top 2 in qualifying and third teammate Kenseth won Gatorade Duel 2, an event Biffle led for a race-high 40 laps. But while championships may elude Edwards, the Daytona 500 might just land in his lap. If Edwards can pull it off, he'd be the 18th pole-sitter to win the 500 and the first since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

Dark Horse

Pete Pistone's pick

Marcos Ambrose -- The entire Ford contingent has been fast at Daytona since it rolled off the haulers at the start of Speedweeks. Ambrose is among those who have stayed near the top of speed chart in practice sessions and the Richard Petty Motorsports driver also factored into both the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel outcomes. The popular Australian feels at home in NASCAR after finding his way the last few seasons and many believe he’ll win his first oval track race in 2012 in addition to being a powerhouse on the road courses. That victory could come on Sunday with Ambrose giving his fans both in the U.S. as well as “down under” something to celebrate.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Trevor Bayne -- The defending Daytona 500 champion as a darkhorse? I may be stretching this a bit, but I haven't heard anybody giving him much of a chance to repeat. He's been decent during Speedweeks, but remains somewhat of an afterthought behind the Cup regulars. He's flying under the radar, but has the car to pull of the win again. At the very least, you can say he has experience winning NASCAR's biggest race. How wild would it be if Bayne were to make it 2 for 2 in the Daytona 500?

Surprise Top 10

Pete Pistone's pick

Dave Blaney -- The former World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion had a guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500 thanks to his finish inside the Top 35 last year. But after team owner Tommy Baldwin worked out an agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing to transfer those points to Danica Patrick, Blaney had to race his way into the 500 in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel. Last season the underdog turned a lot of heads with stellar restrictor plate track performances at both Daytona and Talladega so Blaney has skills in the draft. He may also have a little extra motivation as well on Sunday after the off-season points maneuvering and despite being a David against the Goliaths of the series; a finish inside the first ten is not out of the question.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Aric Almirola -- It's easy to forget that Almirola is the newest driver of the No. 43 car, replacing A.J. Allmendinger, who jumped to Penske Racing to fill the No. 22 seat vacated by Kurt Busch. He definitely has speed as he topped the fourth practice session and was second in the fifth session. Another driver with Ford power under the hood, don't be surprised to see him running near the front on Sunday.

Quick picks

  Pistone De Los Santos
Better Busch brother finish Kyle Kurt
Will Danica finish on lead lap No No
Over/Under Caution Flags (8) Under Under
Over/Under Caution Laps (25) Over Over
Over/Under Leaders (20) Over Under
Over/Under Lead Changes (50) Under Over

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 19, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2011 2:11 pm

Daytona 500 -- Predictions


Pete Pistone's pick

Jeff Gordon The veteran driver has been in a winless drought since he took the checkered flag at Texas back in April of 2009. That will change on Sunday when he rolls into victory lane for the fourth time in his career as a winner of the Daytona 500. Gordon came so close to victory lane several times last season in a year that was nothing short of frustrating for the four-time series champion. But the off-season personnel move by team owner Rick Hendrick to pair Gordon with new crew chief Alan Gustafson will pay immediate dividends by not only ending the winless streak but will do it in the biggest race of the year. Gordon has been fast all week, will start from the front row on Sunday and has figured out the two car drafting phenomenon. That should all add up to the No. 24 rolling into victory lane on Sunday.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Clint Bowyer Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick have all been stout for Richard Childress Racing throughout Speedweeks. Burton led a race-high 32 laps in the Shootout and a race-high 17 laps in Duel 2 en route the victory. In Duel 1, Harvick led a race-high 20 laps. Burton and Bowyer have especially worked well together. It's time Bowyer gets in on the fun of leading and winning. I expect he'll be hooked up with Burton for much of Sunday's race, but this time Bowyer edges his teammates for the victory in the "Great American Race."


Pete Pistone's pick

Trevor Bayne The highly touted young driver has adapted to racing a Sprint Cup car at Daytona almost instantly. Bayne has superstar written all over him but not many expected to see him make the jump from the Nationwide Series to NASCAR’s top level so quickly. He has 17 races with the Wood Brothers on the Cup program in addition to the full Nationwide schedule for Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne proved to be an adept drafting partner in the Gatorade Duel with veterans like Gordon teaming up with the youngster. Ford power has also proven to be stout this Speedweeks so the No. 21 will not have a problem keeping up with the pack. The Daytona 500 has made the career of several future stars throughout its stories history and Bayne has a solid opportunity to add his name to that list.

Brian De Los Santos' pick
Michael Waltrip -- He snagged an emotional victory in Friday night's Truck race, 10 years to the day Dale Earnhardt Sr. died on the last lap of Waltrip's 2001 Daytona 500 victory. But whenever something good happens to Waltrip, inevitably there's something that happens to sap the joy from the occassion. This time it was the fact his rear spoiler broke on the last lap, which may have been just the assistance he need to get by Sadler for the win. We all know he's a strong restrictor-plate racer. Maybe, just maybe, he can win a race at Daytona that doesn't carry some sort of baggage.


Pete Pistone's pick

Regan Smith The one car Furniture Row Racing operation is headquartered in Denver – Colorado not North Carolina. That makes things difficult for the organization in terms of resources and being connected to the hub of the sport in and around Charlotte. But it hasn’t hindered the preparation of fast race cars and a solid restrictor plate program. Smith is a former Rookie of the Year who has demonstrated keen drafting talent coming close to pulling off an upset win at Talladega a couple of years ago when he went below the yellow out of bounds line while taking the checkered flag. He’s been lightning fast this Speedweeks and has fostered alliances with some of the best in the sport including Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and the Richard Childress Racing stable. If there’s a made scramble at the end of Sunday’s race, don’t be surprised to see the nondescript black No. 78 in the middle of it.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Paul Menard -- It's easy to forget he's part of what is now a quartet over at RCR. He hasn't proven to be as strong as his veteran mates during Speedweeks, but he should have picked up a few pointers the last few days that may just help him stay in the hunt Sunday. In seven Cup starts at Daytona, he has never finished in the top 10. In three Daytona 500 starts, his best finish is 13th.

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Category: Auto Racing
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