Daytona is Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Track

Last week NASCAR was at the Kentucky Speedway, one of the 1.5 mile staples of the series.  Brad Keselowski won the race, becoming the first driver this season to have three race wins.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. is second in the standings, 11 points behind Matt Kenseth.  NASCAR night races are always exciting but night races at Dayton International Speedway are even better.  This week Dale Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR return to Daytona for The Coke Zero 400.

If you are new to NASCAR, the Daytona International Speedway is a 2.5 mile high banked speedway.  With 31 degrees of banking in the turns and 18 degrees in the tri-oval, cars are able to run around with the throttle wide open.  NASCAR purposely restricts engine horse power so that the car cannot run faster than about 200 MPH.  The reason is cars running over that tend to get airborne like an airplane.  Since all of the cars have about the same horse power they tend to run in packs.  When cars run in packs there is less air resistance so the cars go even faster than they would alone.  Cars in packs can run about 10 MPH faster than a single car.

During the Daytona 500, NASCAR worked to get the cars drafting in packs instead of two car tandems.  They were pretty successful in that endeavor but there were some small two car tandems.  Expect there to be discussion about this throughout the race.

The driver ratings for this race are below but are not a reflection of how well drivers do at this track.  For instance Jimmie Johnson has eight top ten races at Daytona in ten races, an incredible stat.  When you look at the driver ratings he is tenth with a rating of 83.5. This is more an indication that he has ridden in the back for much of the race and didn’t lead many laps.  Kyle Busch’s rating of 97.5 indicates he races at the front and leads a lot of laps.  Kyle only has six top ten finishes in the last ten races.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all drivers at Daytona International Speedway with two wins, nine top five and 14 top ten finishes.  His average finish is 14.5.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently got his first win in four years at Michigan.  He has 13 top ten finishes so far this year and is on track to finish the year with better finishes than his previous best year 2004.  2004 also happens to be the last time Dale won at Daytona.  This is his year and this is his track.  David Ragan won this race last year driving for Roush Fenway Racing.

Even though it occurs after July 4th, this is the race where NASCAR celebrates the holiday.  This summer NASCAR started a program called NASCAR Unites – An American Salute in support of military.  Many of the cars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s, will have special patriotic paint schemes.

If you can’t get to Daytona you can watch the race on TNT at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Brian Berg Jr. is the Lead NASCAR writer for RantSports.com

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.   On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary
Top 12 Driver Rating at Daytona

Kyle Busch………………………….. 97.5
Tony Stewart………………………… 97.1
Kurt Busch…………………………… 91.4
Matt Kenseth………………………… 89.8
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 88.0
Jeff Gordon…………………………… 87.9
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 87.4
Kevin Harvick………………………… 86.1
Jeff Burton……………………………. 86.0
Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 83.5
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 83.5
Carl Edwards………………………… 83.1

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (15 total) at Daytona.


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