by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowApril 2, 2010 7:16 am UTC No Comments
NASCAR fans will name the Earnhardts. Probably the Allisons and Labontes. Open wheelers could throw out the Kinsers, Mears, Vukovichs and maybe the Foyts. My memory isn’t that great, so if I’ve left some out, beat me up in the comment section.
But I’ll argue with you if you tell me there are two families that have had a bigger impact on the racing world than the Pettys and Andrettis. And they are teaming up to go IndyCar Racing in 2010 at Kansas Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. John Andretti will drive and Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR sponsor Window World will foot the bill.
Back in 2007, when Sam Hornish Jr was pondering his move from the IRL to NASCAR, I was scratching my head about why the Andretti’s didn’t give NASCAR a shot too. Click here to read the post. This new partnership makes me wonder more.
IndyCar is struggling. I know there is an advantage to being the big dog in the room, as Andretti Autosport is, in the North American open wheel racing world. But I sure would love to see the two regal families of American racing take a shot at stock cars together.
I mean no offense, but who would you rather see in a stock car; Nelson Piquet Jr or Marco Andretti?
Photo credit: BethAnne Heisler for OnPitRow.com
by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.February 10, 2010 6:48 pm UTC 2 Comments
Of course, everybody’s going to be extra hungry to take the checkered flag in the first and biggest race of the season – especially those drivers who are running limited schedules this season or others who failed to register a victory in 2009. But as we all know, only one will claim the victory and the Harley J. Earl Trophy.
This year’s fantasy column is going to run similarly to last year’s. I’ll pick five drivers with a shot to win, with one singled out as my pick and one left-field pick as my dark horse. It’s up to you folks playing fantasy racing games online to do the rest. Without further ado:
Tony Stewart is my pick to win the Daytona 500. Stewart-Haas Racing proved it was no pushover last year, and with a year under their belts they’ll be even stronger in 2010. Smoke is certainly hungry for a win in the 500, as his teammate (Ryan Newman) and crew chief (Darian Grubb) have both already won the biggest race. He’s got the stats to back him up too: In the 14 Daytona races since 2003, he has only failed to lead laps three times, and in both 2005 races he led over 100 laps. He’s also got three Daytona Cup wins, the most recent coming in last year’s Coke Zero 400.
My dark horse pick is another former Daytona winner, John Andretti. Running a dream schedule of major Cup events and likely the Indianapolis 500 this year, he’ll no longer have to worry about points racing and keeping a car in the top 35. He can run as hard as he wants when he races and go for victories. Keep in mind how Mark Martin elevated his game in 2007 with the pressure of points racing off his back, and nearly won the 500.
Three other drivers you can expect to do well on Sunday:
Marcos Ambrose has an average finish of 11.5, best among active drivers at Daytona. True, he’s only made two starts, but he hasn’t taken a big hit in the Cup cars, and he’s learned plenty from his Nationwide experience, including what it feels like to wreck at the superspeedway. He successfully avoided the accident at the end of last July’s race to finish sixth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. desperately needs a strong run after a dismal 2009 that saw him sink to 25th in points, his worst ever showing in Sprint Cup. He qualified second, a sign that he’ll be fast on race day, but he needs to avoid the bad luck that plagued him at Daytona (as well as seemingly everywhere else) last year.
Finally, one cannot count out pole sitter Mark Martin. Sunday will mark the third time in four races he’ll sit on the front row of a Cup race at Daytona, and his first pole at the track since the 1989 Pepsi 400, in which he finished 16th. But shockingly, Martin has never won a points-paying Sprint Cup event at his home track (he lives in nearby Port Orange); in his 50th start at the track, can the 51-year-old win the 52nd Daytona 500?