Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM


Storylines and Predictions for the Great American Race

Well, it’s certainly that time of year again. Tempers have already flared, cars have already been wrecked and drivers have already been voicing their opinion, which can only mean one thing: The Great American Race is upon us, as the new NASCAR season will go green for official points racing this upcoming Sunday.

You can catch the race on FOX around 1:00 pm, or tune in earlier (a little before noon) for pre-race coverage. The race will take place at the World Center of Racing, in Daytona Beach, Florida at the world famous Daytona International Speedway.

The 57th running of this race has been the first race of the season since 1982, as well as the biggest. But NASCAR has been racing at Daytona since its inception in 1952 on the beaches. This place has one thing more than any other track: history and roots.

If I have learned one thing watching the past 15 or so Daytona 500’s on television and going to the past four or five in person, it’s that you truly never know what to expect. It’s a wild card of some sorts.

Nobody knew who Trevor Bayne was on that February morning in 2011, but when he took the checkered flag, the whole world suddenly knew.  Or in 1998, when one of the sport’s most decorated drivers, the late Dale Earnhardt, finally got his elusive 500 win in his 20th try. What about in 2007, when Kevin Harvick beat Mark Martin to the line by inches? Or last season, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won after a seven hour rain delay, much to the approval of Jr. Nation. You truly never know.

Jeff Gordon will lead the field to the green flag from the pole position on February 22 Sunday in his final Daytona 500 to start off his “Farewell Tour.” His teammate, Jimmie Johnson, and winner of the second Budweiser Duel this past Thursday, will start second, with their other Hendrick Motorsports teammate and last year’s winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., starting third. Defending champion, Kevin Harvick, will start 11th on Sunday as well, looking to get out of the box strong to defend his title.

Alex Bowman, Jeb Burton, Brian Scott, Josh Wise, Justin Marks and Ron Hornaday Jr. did not qualify for the big race, as some were involved in accidents and some just were not fast enough. However, Michael Annett, Ty Dillon, Johnny Sauter and J.J. Yeley were among the drivers that raced their way into the Great American Race through their Budweiser Duel finishing position and qualifying speed.

But you know that tempers had to flare before the big race, right?  Well, of course, they did!

If you thought that Harvick vs. Logano was the end of the feuds during Speedweeks, think again. Denny Hamlin and Danica Patrick got into an accident in one of the earlier practice sessions, forcing Patrick to go to a back-up car and race her way into the Daytona 500. But during her duel race, Hamlin seemed to cause another accident, this one also involving Patrick. Whether he touched the rear bumper of her car or not, she was MAD. She approached him in pit road after the race and yelled at him for a little bit. No punches or haymakers were thrown (sorry, Rob Gronkowski), but I would not be at all surprised if the No. 10 payed back the No. 11 sometime in the near future on the track.  Maybe even in the 500.  No holds barred, it’s the biggest stage.

Thought that was it with the drama?  I think you know the answer to that question: NOPE.

Late Friday evening, it was announced that a court found that Kurt Busch did indeed commit acts of domestic violence against his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll. This announcement led to the immediate indefinite suspension of Busch from NASCAR competition, including the Daytona 500.  About 45 minutes later, Chevrolet, the manufacturer for Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing, stopped sponsorship of Busch, effective immediately. Busch’s camp is currently filing an appeal to the suspension, but as of now, Regan Smith will fill in for the No. 41 car for the foreseeable future.

As if those Storylines coming in were not enough, last night, Kyle Busch crashed hard into the inside wall and ended up fracturing his ankle and breaking his leg. Matt Crafton has been named as his interim replacement in the No. 18 for the big race, as Busch is out indefinitely. No other driver has been announced moving forward. Daytona International Speedway has already said they plan to replace that wall with SAFER barriers. Better late than never, I guess.

So let’s get down to what you’ve all been waiting for: the prediction.  Will Tony Stewart win his first Daytona 500?  WIll Jeff Gordon go out on top and win his final Daytona 500? What about Danica Patrick winning? Or a complete underdog, like Trevor Bayne, shocking the world again?

In my opinion, I don’t think any of these aforementioned things will happen.  But for most readers, they will be happy at my prediction.

I think that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will repeat as Daytona 500 champion, winning his third overall 500 (2004, 2013) in his No. 88 Chevrolet. Why? It’s simple: speed kills.

Junebug was fastest in multiple of the seven practice sessions throughout Speedweeks, was fast in the Sprint Unlimited, won his duel race, and when I watched him race in the packs during practice in person at the speedway, he seemed like he could go anywhere his car wanted it to go and suck up to the pack better than anybody else.

I hope that you all are as excited as I am for the 2015 season to “officially” begin this Sunday at the World Center of Racing. Be sure to tune in, because this will be a race that you won’t want to miss.

Davey Segal is the host of Victory Lane for Impact Sports


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