February 19, 2011
Daytona 500's top 10 list
By DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency
Ten things to watch for in the Daytona 500:
1: The drivers with the most horsepower — read the Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing teams — will take off like rockets when the green flag drops.
2: Finding a driver to draft with will be just as important early, as it will be later on, so you will notice some drivers like Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick trying out several partners before picking a date for the prom that should start on about lap 190 of 200.
3: All week long at Daytona tires have not been an issue. The new pavement allowed teams to keep tires on twice as long as in previous years. That may change when the race is on the line because fresh rubber is always good and drivers will be screaming for them as the race gets near the finish.
4: Daytona has always been a fuel race. So watch early on to see how long these 800 horsepower motors can go on a tank of gas with speeds of 200 m.p.h. Those early pit stops will be a good guide to which teams can stretch out a gallon of Sunoco premium.
5: At some point, probably by about lap 75, the cars will develop a rhythm and that brings its own dangers as a momentary lapse of concentration under these conditions could result in the big one.
6: On the pit stops there is sure to be some stumbles as NASCAR changed the rules to eliminate the catch-can carrier this season. A pit stop is a very highly choreographed deal and with one of the dancers now missing you might see some guys tripping over themselves.
7: The radio chatter between drivers should be more interesting than ever with the Daytona two-step such an important element this year. FOX-Sports is sure to tune in to some of the best, so pay attention, it will be fun.
8: The guys on the roof of Daytona’s giant racing complex will be playing a role almost as important as the drivers so watch for a lot of running around between crew chiefs and spotters trying to keep their communication lines open.
9: Several drivers got caught speeding on pit lane in the Nationwide race. Watch for more of that in the Daytona 500.
10: Finally and most important, watch for tell tale signs these big motors are in trouble as RPMs approach the 9300 mark.
Steam coming out of the release valve will usually mean that car is in big trouble.