Race Day: Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway
Are racetracks more dramatic the second time around? We are about to find out as the Sprint Cup series starts its second time though its tracks with a return visit to the Daytona International Speedway.
Of course the second time at Daytona will be different. It’s warmer in July, but this race is also run at night.
“The heat -- it’s a night race, but it’s a lot hotter so it kind of balances out,” said Matt Kenseth. “The track is starting to age a little bit and handling is still not a big concern yet. It’s probably getting closer to being a concern or something you have to work on. We had really good cars there in February and hopefully we will again.”
There are drivers who are really good at restrictor plate racing. Kenseth has two wins at Daytona, both in the 500. Jeff Gordon has six DIS wins, his teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Jimmie Johnson have three each. Tony Stewart (4), Michael Waltrip (3), Jamie McMurray (2), Greg Biffle , Kevin Harvick and David Ragen all also have Daytona wins are known as good plate racers. But the magic about Daytona is that anyone was win there, if they can make it through the wrecks, just as 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne.
“The restrictor plate tracks are a good equalizer,” said pole sitter David Gilliland. “David Ragan and I both have cars good enough to win tomorrow and that is an exciting feeling. It is something myself and my teammate don’t have every week.”
It’s something that is evident in the starting line-up. Joining Gilliland in the top five is Reed Sorenson, Landon Cassell, Bobby Labonte and Johnson. Lots of bigger named drivers start further back, including Kansas native Clint Bowyer who will start 34th.
The green flag for the Coke Zero 400 is scheduled to drop at about 6:50 pm Central time.