We got our first taste of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series last Saturday night with the running of the Budweiser Shootout. If you are a race fan or a casual observer of the sport, everyone got a little taste of what they enjoy. We saw the return of the pack up until the end of the race when the two car tandems made a comeback. At the end of the race it was a photo finish with Kyle Busch finding his way Victory Lane by beating Tony Stewart by a half of a bumper to the finish line.
On Sunday we got to see qualifying for the Great American Race that set the first two starting positions for the race. Carl Edwards captured the pole with Greg Biffle getting the second starting spot for Sunday’s race.
On Thursday, we get the qualifying 150 mile races known as the Gatorade Duels. With the majority of the drivers already locked into the race, I think we will see much calmer races. Those drivers who are already in the race are going to use the their race to test how the car moves through the draft, run out front, and to get those first pit stop jitters out of the way. There will be some drivers that their agenda is going to be grabbing one of the few remaining spots still available to be in the race. They will be worth watching at the end of the race to see who gets in and who is left out.
Let’s move on to Sunday’s race though. This year is the 54th running of the biggest race for NASCAR. I have to say that I was happy with the return of the pack racing we saw Saturday. In various articles and on Twitter, the pack racing was received both up and down. I do think that we will see a different temperate on Sunday during the Daytona 500.
The beginning of the race will probably feature an incident or two that is going to take out some drivers. You always hope at the beginning of the race that your driver is not where the action starts, and then is not behind it somewhere. Once the early wrecks are over and the field has settled down, instead of seeing the pack running, I think we are going to see drivers running nose to tail in a long line at the top of the track. There will not be a lot of passing and not a lot of running from the back to the front. Drivers are going to want to get to the end of the race before the huge pack forms back up.
Will the race be exciting? I would say it is going to have it moments and it is also going to have some points where you can take a nap and not miss much. Pit stops are going to be important as well and will need to be watched closely. With 50 laps to go it will be any drivers race to win or lose that is on the lead lap and in the main draft.
I have an opinion on who is going to win it, and I am going to go with Tony Stewart. I think it is his time to get his first Daytona 500 win, and that comes this Sunday. My tough luck this week pick is for Kurt Busch. He will have a good car, but I just see him getting mixed up in an incident at some point.
Enjoy the first points race weekend of the year, and remember to follow us on Twitter @troublinturntwo.