Hype for Daytona 500 over as favorites emerge

Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart lead a star-studded field
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<p> Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart lead a star-studded NASCAR field.</p>

A week of pomp and circumstance is nearly over in Daytona. On the eve of NASCAR’s most prestigious race, the Daytona 500, Cup cars roar around the historic 2.5-mile superspeedway in the final practice session of the week — known as Happy Hour — looking for that last little bit of speed. Or handling. Or integrity. Or answers of some sort.

The 10 Most Memorable Daytona 500s

Harvick, Busch win Duels; hint at what's to come in Daytona

What we've learned thus far in Speedweeks
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<p> What the Sprint Unlimited and Budweiser Duels have taught us.</p>

The theme of NASCAR Speedweeks in Daytona thus far?


New cars that do not line up square and are volatile in the draft; a supposed lack of quality body parts back at the team shops in North Carolina; valued information gleaned on specific cars that crew chiefs don’t want sacrificed.

For these reasons — and possibly because there’s no need to show one’s hand just yet — the action has been relatively staid at Daytona International Speedway.

Storylines, history surround NASCAR's Daytona 500

Running the facts, figures and numbers on the Daytona 500
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The Daytona 500 is an event that transcends its own sport, much the same as the Super Bowl, the World Series or the Masters. Over the last 54 years, a lot of history has been made just off the beach (and just on it) on Daytona International Speedway's 2.5-miles of asphalt. The following is a look at the numbers, facts and figures of NASCAR's biggest race.

How NASCAR Sets the Starting Lineup for the Daytona 500

It's unlike any other race. As is its qualifying procedure.

Setting the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 can be a trial of confusion for those that choose not to read the syllabus. And let’s be honest, that’s why you’re reading this, right? You want the CliffsNotes.

Fair enough. So allow me to explain this as painlessly as possible.

7 Amazing NASCAR Driver Stats for the Daytona 500

NASCAR Numbers Game: Daytona
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<p> 7 Amazing NASCAR Driver Stats for the Daytona 500</p>

Daytona. For the casual fan, it’s the one time a year in which tuning in is a must, not an option. For the hardcore fans and industry veterans, it’s a spiritual revival. It suffices as the start of a new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season when teams have spotless records and sky-high optimism.

Danica, Stenhouse and an Evolving NASCAR Narrative

New storylines will emerge at Speedweeks in Daytona
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<p> New storylines will emerge at Speedweeks in Daytona.</p>

It’s been a unique start to Speedweeks in Daytona for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Though technically, I guess most starts are unique. This one, however, has taken a new (if not predictable) turn since Danica Patrick went public concerning her relationship with fellow Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to re-hash, quote-for-quote, the events of the week.

10 "WTH?" Moments in NASCAR Television

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Reflecting on the NASCAR season that was
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<p> Dustin Long and the Backseat Drivers Fan Council discuss the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.</p>

The racing is over. All that remains is for NASCAR to get together in Las Vegas next week, dole out some money and party. Before the banquet arrives, members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council take a look back at the sport’s TV coverage this season and the racing, while looking ahead to 2013. Here is what they had to say:

Grade the TV coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season by FOX, TNT, Speed and ESPN/ABC