Restrictor Plates Are Off: It’s Daytona Time
By: Jeff Southard
Finally after a long (or short depending on if you have a fan view or NASCAR fabricator view) winter the time has finally come, the cars are ready to take the track on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. Saturday night will mark the start of the NASCAR racing season with the Sprint Unlimited and the race debut of the Gen-6 race car. 2013 is on tap to be one of the most exciting season’s in years. From the Sprint Cup Series all the way down to the weekly Whelen All-American Series, its going to be a good one. We will be with you each week here on JDSMotorsports.com with this weekly column. Normally the column will be posted on Monday or Tuesday morning depending on my schedule. So be sure and use all the options on the right side of your screen to follow us via email, Twitter, and Facebook!
Top Five Things To Watch During Speedweeks
1. The Gen-6 Race Car
Nothing has brought so much buzz and excitement into the sport in the last ten or so years as the Gen-6 race car. This car has finally brought the unique looks of the manufactures back into the sport. The cars look good on the track and the fans can relate them to their street cars. They also will feature the drivers name on the front windshield to help newer fans to the sport easily identify each driver. The one big unknown however is how the car will race, only time and laps will answer that question!
(Photos Credit: NASCAR.com)
2. New Faces, New Places
There are lots of new faces in new places for 2013 but the two biggest moves are obviously Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Logano moves from the #20 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing to the #22 Ford at Penske Racing. Kenseth moves from his long time home at Roush-Fenway Racing in the #17 Ford to the #20 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing. Both drivers should be a thread to win each week and I look for them both to benefit from the ride changes.
(Photo Credit PenskeRacing.com)
(Photo Credit: thefinallap.com)
3. UNOH Battle At The Beach
The UNOH Battle At The Beach is a non-points all star race for the K&N Pro Series and the Whelen Modified Tours, a who’s-who of short track racers, these may very well be the best races of the week. They will be held on a temporary 4/10ths of a mile oval constructed on the back stretch.
4. Pack Racing
As Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Marcos Ambrose proved in pre-season testing the new Gen-6 race car doesn’t like to bump draft too well. This oddity in bumper surfaces could greatly reduce or eliminate the two-by-two racing we have grown accustom to at Daytona and Talladega over the past few years and signal the return of all out “pack racing”. Look for three wide and out of control to be the highlight of this years Daytona 500!
(Photo Credit: wikipedia.org)
5. Air Titan
For one time in the history of racing a little rain might be cool, I mean, how else are we going to get to see the new “Air Titan” track drying system work? The new system should cut track drying times by up to 80% once it is fully developed and tuned in.
(Photo Credit NASCAR.com)
The Sprint Unlimited
Formerly the Bud Shootout, formerly the Busch Clash, The Spring Unlimited brings exciting change to the annual non-points, invitation only kick off event of Speedweeks. Fans will be able to vote on several key aspects of the race. The Race Format, The Pit Stop, The Elimination, and The Fire Suit. You can vote for these choices by downloading the NASCAR Mobile App on your phone or by CLICKING HERE.
Here is how I voted.
The choices were 40/20/15 laps, 35/30/10 laps, or 30/25/20 laps.
I went with 35/30/10. A 40 lap start would be boring and 10 laps at the end is just enough to insure every lap will be exciting!
The choices were no pit stop, yes-2 tires, or yes-4 tires.
I voted 4 tires. These guys are going to be running on edge, lets keep the safe with some good tires under them and make the cars handle as best as possible so they can make those crazy moves for position.
The choices were none, 2 cars, 4 cars, or 6 cars.
I voted 6. Eliminate all those who want to lay back and not race and cause a mad dash for that transfer spot.
The choices were design 1, design 2, design 3.
I won’t break this one down too much but I voted design 2!
You can vote as many times as you want!
The Starting Line Up
Also the fans in attendance at the race Saturday night will be able to set the starting line up.
They can choose from the following three options.
Number of Wins (Most To Least), 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Final Standings, or The Order The Drivers Won Their Pole Positions.
If I were going to be at the track to vote I would vote for the order the drivers won their pole positions. This option mixes up the field and is the most random. Placing the best drivers all through out the field making for an exciting race! But if I had to bet money I’d bet whichever choice places Dale Jr. toward the front will be the one that wins out!
In case you missed our post earlier in the week containing the entire schedule for the 2013 Budweiser Speedweeks CLICK HERE
2013 Season Preview and Predictions
A few weeks back I posted up my predictions for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series. If you missed it, CLICK HERE. In it I predicted my top five finishers and Sprint Cup Champion. Here are my picks.
Sprint Cup Series Top 5 Predictions
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Kasey Kahne
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Jeff Gordon
Just to have something cool to look back on I’m going to take a shot at the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series top five’s as well. But with such a stacked field in both series’ this is more or less just a wild guess!
Nationwide Series Top 5 Predictions
1. Austin Dillon- With a Cup ride approaching fast this may be Austin’s last chance to win a Nationwide title and have a shot at winning all three major titles in his career. With Sadler out of the picture at RCR that puts Dillon to the front of the line.
2. Brian Vickers- Brian’s comeback story will continue this year, he has a strong ride at Joe Gibbs, but not strong enough to overtake the #3.
3. Regan Smith- A dark horse for the title win, Regan could surprise some people if the crew at JR Motorsports can get some winning cars under him.
4. Elliot Sadler- At RCR Sadler was the top dog, not so much at Joe Gibbs. I think he will have a good year, but fall short once again of the title.
5. Kyle Larson- I mentioned in an earlier article that I was high on Kyle Larson so I would be cheating myself if I didn’t put him in a top five. This is a wild card of sorts but he is in a good ride and has plenty of talent. If he can control his foot to the floor driving style he will run up front and win races.
Camping World Truck Series Top 5 Predictions
1. Ty Dillon- Oh so close in 2012, Ty will follow in his brothers tire tracks in 2013 and bring another title to RCR.
2. James Buescher- I like the fact that Buescher isn’t rushing his career by moving up too fast, but I don’t like his chances for winning back to back championships.
3. Joey Coulter- Joey goes from being the second man at RCR to the front runner at Kyle Busch Motorsports. He’s proven he is a solid contender and should be able to put Kyle in victory lane a few times this year.
4. Brendan Gaughan- Brendan showed last year he can still drive the wheels off of it in all three top NASCAR series’. Look for him to show he deserves another shot at the big time with a solid year.
5. Ryan Blaney- Ryan was consistent last year, and consistency wins titles. He still has a lot to learn and will certainly stumble along the way but an already proven winner, look for Ryan up front all year.
In closing this week I wanted to share this picture I saw today on Facebook. It really breaks down the transition of the NASCAR race car over the years from Gen-1 to the current Gen-6.
(CLICK HERE for Photo Credit)
“Restrictor Plates Are Off” is simply a weekly opinion column shared each week with the viewers of JDSMotorsports.com, a word press blog. We are not a professional media outlet nor do we pretend to be one. Just a NASCAR fan who enjoys sharing opinions with our readers. This article is written by Jeff Southard. For questions or comments pleas either respond through the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org