Sunday's Daytona 500, the 55th in the long, storied history of The Great American Race, officially has the field set. There are endless stories emanating from NASCAR's biggest event, but here are the five that will most impact Sunday's race.
As the 2013 NASCAR season revs up this weekend at Daytona, Athlon Sports offers up our preseason Top 25 Sprint Cup Series driver rankings. Click on each driver's name for a detailed preview of what fans can expect in 2013.
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.
“The Jimmie Johnson Era.” Many fans might hate it, but that’s likely how the past decade of Sprint Cup competition will be remembered, as Johnson has made the series his personal playground since he sat on the front row of the Daytona 500 as a rookie 11 years ago. Despite two straight seasons in which he and his team have underperformed (by their standards), many in the sport believe the road to the Cup title still goes through his No. 48 car’s garage stall.
Sports are filled with statistics that uber-nerds and casual fans alike can enjoy. Numbers and records help fans define greatness and settle arguments on talk radio and at the local watering holes on a daily basis.
Who is the greatest quarterback of all-time? What about running back? How about Jordan vs. Kobe? Ruth vs. Aaron? Tiger vs. Jack?
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
Brad Keselowski entered Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 20-point lead in NASCAR’s Chase standings.
Problem was, his competition came in the form of a five-time champion.
Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team enjoyed a reign that lasted from 2006-10, and they won the championship in every way imaginable in that time: Going away, coming from behind, with consistency and utilizing a glut of wins.
Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long reveals that Paul Wolfe was very close to not being Brad Keselowski's Sprint Cup crew chief. But now that the two are together at Penske Racing, they satnd on the verge of a NASCAR championship.</p>
Kevin Harvick won a wild AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski overtook the points lead over Jimmie Johnson while Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer engaged in an on- and off-track melee.</p>
Once the smoke cleared, the cars (or what was left of them) were loaded and the Sunday sun set over Phoenix International Raceway, a new championship landscape had emerged in NASCAR. But tempers as hot and raw as the surrounding Sonora Desert shifted the focus of the Sprint Cup Series’ AdvoCare 500 from said title battle—and the race’s previously-MIA winner—to wrecked racecars, fist fights and talk of on-track payback.