Daytona 500: What to Watch For
The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season goes underway on Sunday for the 58th annual Daytona 500.
Major headlines going into the event include rookie driver Chase Elliott, the absence of Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and defending Sprint Cup series champion Kyle Busch.
With Jeff Gordon retiring from the sport last season, all eyes will be on the 24’s newest driver, Chase Elliott. Son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, Chase is one of the youngest drivers on the circuit fresh off of a victory season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Elliott took home the crown last season and is one to watch for in the Sprint Cup series. He’s the pole-sitter for this weekend’s race and is the youngest ever to reach that accomplishment. The pressure is on Elliot to lead the charge on Sunday, which will put many to wonder if the young driver can handle the pressure.
Tony Stewart suffered a broken back while riding an ATV in January. This comes in light of the fact this is his last season. Stewart hasn’t given a timetable for his return, so in the meantime Brian Vickers will take up the role. Stewart missing the Daytona 500 isn’t the best way to start the seasons for himself or for fans of the 14, but Vickers is a feel good story going into this event. Vickers battled heart problems and blood clots over several years of his career and his return to the track is nothing short of impressive. Brian Vickers will start 18th this weekend.
It’s the 15th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s fatal accident in the 2001 Daytona 500. Since then his son Dale Earnhardt Jr, has been a sensation in NASCAR. He’s the most popular driver in the sport and when it comes to restrictor-plate tracks like Daytona, Earnhardt is one of the best in the business. He won the 2014 Daytona 500 and is a high favorite this weekend. Earnhardt starts 3rd in the lineup.
Defending series champion Kyle Busch will start 4th in the lineup. Busch survived a wreck filled qualifying race to get a solid starting position. Busch will be under pressure to perform well this season against the competition but with the Chase format as it is, it’s anyone trophy for who can perform the best on track and on pit road. Busch will be a favorite in the race this weekend.
Restrictor-plate races are subject to many lead changes and big wrecks, so determining a winner will be difficult. The winner will be the one who avoids the wreck, is there in the Top 5 in the last laps of the race, and who can find a racing partner to draft and run with.
Dillon Davis-Tirado covers NASCAR for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @thedavistirado
Hailing from New York City from the borough of Brooklyn, Dillon is a die-hard New York sports fan. He currently resides in Upstate New York, where he studies at Wells College in Aurora, NY.
Follow him on Twitter @thedavistirado and the other MFST writers.
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