Kenseth set for more brilliance
There are a total of four restrictor-plate races held each season between two tracks: Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. This Independence Day weekend event is the only one held at night under the lights for a better view of the fireworks, both on and off the track. The teams have already competed in the season-opening Great American Race and once at 'Dega. They will return there for one final plate race during the Chase. The trends that develop through these races are important to follow, but the nature of plate racing leads to wrecks and a fair degree of unpredictability.
Practice sessions: Thursday, July 4 at 4:00 p.m. EDT, 6:35 p.m. EDT
Qualifying: Friday, July 5 at 4:10 p.m. EDT
Race: Saturday, July 6 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Daytona Beach, Fla.
Length: 2.50 miles
Turns 1-4: 31 degrees
Frontstretch: 18 degrees
Backstretch: 3 degrees
Drivers to keep an eye on
Carl Edwards | No. 99 Subway Ford | Roush Fenway Racing
An early crash kept Edwards from showing what he could do in the season-opening Daytona 500 after qualifying a career-worst 36th. Prior to that mishap Edwards had finished eighth in the 2012 Daytona 500 and sixth that following July, matching a career-best average running position of ninth in the process. Back in May of this year, Edwards captured the pole at Talladega and landed his first ever podium finish at the site.
Matt Kenseth | No. 20 Home Depot/Husky Tools Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing
Over the last eight restrictor-plate races, which date back to mid-2011, Kenseth owns first, second and third-place finishes at DIS, plus a win and another podium trip at Talladega. Kenseth appeared to be closing in on his third career Daytona 500 victory to begin the season but blew an engine with 50 laps to go. Kenseth finished eighth at Talladega, where he led a race-high 142 laps, and is coming off his fourth victory of 2013.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. | No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports
Earnhardt has been the runner-up twice in his last three trips to Daytona and has compiled four finishes inside the top five since 2010. Among all active drivers, his career average running position of 14.6 at DIS ranks fourth. Earnhardt only managed a 17th-place finish at Talladega but captured the pole last week at Kentucky Speedway before a run-in with a piece of debris forced him to work extra hard for a P12 result.
Martin Truex Jr. | No. 56 NAPA Batteries Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing
Truex owns just one top-15 at Daytona since 2011 but has managed to hold an average running position of 13th or better in all five of those races despite an average starting position of just 27th. Over his last three starts, Truex has finished third at Michigan International Speedway, first at Sonoma Raceway and seventh last week at Kentucky. Adjusting to these different tracks from week to week has been working and could yield a long overdue top-10 at Daytona.
Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Ford | Roush Fenway Racing
Over the last three Daytona races, Biffle has qualified in the first three rows and held an average running position of at least seventh each time. In between finishing third in last year's Daytona 500 and sixth this year, "The Biff" was collected in the large wreck last July while he was running in the top five. Biffle was unable to avoid taking damage in an early wreck last week at Kentucky and finished 34th, ending a streak of four consecutive top 15s.
Ryan Newman | No. 39 Outback Steak House Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing
After winning the 2008 Daytona 500, Newman only managed a single top-20 in eight straight DIS starts until finishing fifth last July and adding another fifth in this year's season opener. Newman suffered a DNF due to a crash at Talladega but has qualified quite well there and broke a similar streak of poor results last October.
More to watch and avoid....
About Eric McClung
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.
Don't miss these great reports....