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Race Day: Spoiler Alert – Here Are The Winners

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 20 2011

Kevin Harvick beat Mark Martin by that much in winning the 2007 500. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

We at RacinToday.com hate to spoil today’s race and the rest of the season for readers, but we’re going to have to. Sorry.

As a season-opening, special edition of Race Day, the staff is offering its picks for the winner of today’s Daytona 500 and for the 2011 Sprint Cup championship.

We’ve hedged just a bit by also picking top dark horse candidates for each.

Today’s running of the Daytona 500 is scheduled to begin about 1 p.m. Eastern and will be televised by Fox.

Here are RT’s picks:

Rick Minter

Daytona 500 – Kevin Harvick. Things seem to happen for unforseen reasons in NASCAR. Everybody’s thinking it would be fitting for Dale Jr. to win on the 10th anniversary of his father’s death, but it also would be nice to see the Intimidator’s old car win.

Dark horse for the 500 – Juan Pablo Montoya. He seemed to have a good pusher car in the 150s, and he could parlay that into a win on Sunday.

Sprint Cup championship – Jimmie Johnson. He had an off year – for him – last year and he still won. I don’t see any reason why they’ll have two bad years in a row. That hasn’t happened since he was in Cup.

Dark horse for the championship – Matt Kenseth. With the new points system, consistency will be the key in the Chase, since one bad finish will knock a driver out of the running. His lone championship came with a run like it will take to win this Chase.

Larry Woody

Daytona 500 – Jeff Gordon. He’s the best driver in NASCAR who’s gone the longest without a

Jeff Gordon and new crew chief Alan Gustafson are on the front row at Daytona. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

win, Daytona’s been good to him in the past and he’s over-over-due.

Dark horse for the 500 – Mark Martin. He’s never won the Daytona’s big trophy and this is probably his last best shot with a top-notch team.

Sprint Cup championship – Jeff Gordon. He’s the best driver in NASCAR who’s gone the longest without a championship and he’s over-over-due.

Dark horse for the championship – Mark Martin. He’s never won NASCAR’s big trophy and this is probably his last best shot with a top-notch team.

John Sturbin

Daytona 500 – Kevin Harvick. Driving that black No. 29 Chevrolet , ”Happy” has looked almost Dale Earnhardt-like whether drafting with a Richard Childress Racing teammate or a corporate rival.

Dark horse for the 500 – With his future beyond this season in doubt, Mark Martin’s No. 5 Chevrolet from the Hendrick Motorsports stable looms as his best chance to win his first Daytona 500.

Sprint Cup championship – His Speedweeks hasn’t been that hot to-date, but Denny Hamlin learned how to race his No. 11 Toyota for a championship while finishing runnerup to Jimmie Johnson in 2010.

Dark horse for the championship – We would like to stand and recognize the senator-to-be from the Commonwealth of Virginia, and driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, Jeff Burton.

Nick Bromberg

Daytona 500 – Clint Bowyer. I’ve (unsuccessfully) picked the same driver to win the 500 for the last

The racing at Daytona International Speedway makes picking a winner just a bit more difficult. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

10 years, but the ECR engine power is making me switch to Bowyer.

Dark horse for the 500 – Paul Menard. It’s that RCR thing, and Menard has a good car. Watch out for Regan Smith too.

Sprint Cup championship – Jimmie Johnson. No offense to Johnson, but I’m terrible with predictions, so this is a bit of a reverse jinx of sorts. Would it be historic to see him win? Definitely. Is it what’s best for NASCAR? Not so sure.

Dark horse for the championship – Joey Logano. I think Logano makes the Chase this season, but also don’t count out Bowyer as a title contender. Most picks I’ve seen him have him in the vicinity of 8th. He could be in the title race until the very end.

Jeff Hood

Daytona 500 winner – Clint Bowyer. The winner at Talladega last fall will make it two consecutive restrictor-plate victories.

Dark horse for the 500 – Regan Smith. His No. 78 Chevrolet has shown plenty of speed this week in the two-car draft.

Sprint Cup championship – Jimmie Johnson. The five-time defending champion will capture another title and stake his claim as the sport’s all-time greatest driver.

Dark horse for the championship: Greg Biffle. Has the potential to power his way to the championship by posting solid finishes on a weekly basis.

Mike Harris

Daytona 500 winner – Jeff Gordon. He’s a great plate racer and this man needs a win in the worst way. Taking the checkered flag at NASCAR’s biggest even could be the catalyst he needs to win a fifth Cup title.

Dark horse for the 500 – Greg Biffle. He’s overdue at Daytona.

Greg Biffle took the checkered flag at at Kansas Speedway last fall. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Sprint Cup championship – Jeff Gordon.

Dark horse for championship: Brad Keselowski. This year could be the breakthrough year in Cup for Bad,  I mean Brad Keselowski. Coming off a great year in Nationwide, he and Penske teammate Kurt Busch could be the surprises of the new Cup season.

Jonathan Ingram

Daytona 500 winner – Kurt Busch. Dodge, Penske and Busch, who has been very calculating with his aggressiveness, have the speed, cooling and momentum to win.

Dark horse for the Daytona 500 – David Reutimann. The Michael Waltrip team is highly motivated, well prepared and Reutimann’s talent in plate racing far underappreciated.

Sprint Cup championship – Carl Edwards. Roush Racing has bounced back from its simulation program doldrums, the FR9 engine has arrived and Cousin Carl has always been ready to step up.

Jim Pedley

Dayton 500 winner – Jeff Gordon. Talk about a crap shoot. There are 30 drivers that could win this race. Gordon has experience, new crew chief and fast car.

Dark horse for the 500 – Joey Logano. He has been pretty good in Speedweeks. He has a couple of good teammates to help with draft.

Sprint Cup championship – Kyle Busch. Perhaps the best driver in the series and let’s face it, he is going to win it some year. Why not this one?

Dark horse – Clint Bowyer. One of the three best drivers in the series who carries a lot of momentum over from last year.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 20 2011


  • Terry says:

    Hey guys since I pick this one right ……( yes I am buying a lottery ticket next )……am I really smart?…..AAAAHHHHH no….
    BUT HAPPY !!!! really really HAPPY……

  • Jeff Gordon says:

    […] Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet Row 3: 5. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 6. 33 Clint BJeff Gordon – 24 Jeff Gordon, Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet Row 2: 3. 22 Kurt Busch Shell/Pennzoil Dodge 4. 31 […]

  • Terry says:

    Biffle….500 winner…( if not Trevor Bayne..Hey!!! stuff happens )
    Gordon….has his mind right
    Johnson…until someone shows me something different…..
    Biffle…he is more focused than Carl….