Blogs & Opinion


Alex Ferguson asks if Danica Patrick can become the first woman in history to win the Daytona 500

Alex Ferguson Posted 18th February 2013 view comments

This Sunday we will hear the roar of engines as 45 cars battle it out for NASCAR's Super Bowl - the Daytona 500.

Danica Patrick has already made a massive roar at the two-and-a-half mile track, notching the first-ever pole by a woman in Sprint Cup Series history.

But can she win the Great American Race? Or will Sprint Cup winner Brad Keselowski add to his 2012 title and take home the Daytona 500, too?

Danica Patrick: finished 62nd on her first run at Daytona

Danica Patrick: finished 62nd on her first run at Daytona

Alex Ferguson asks those questions and more (and tries to answer some of them), before the start of what is sure to be another thrilling NASCAR season...

Can Danica become the first woman in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500?

Danica Patrick's arrival to NASCAR from IndyCar as a full-time driver in 2012 was much-heralded, but little happened. The closest she got to a top 10 was 17th at Phoenix, but otherwise, she was fairly ordinary. In the 'Championship' series to the Sprint Cup Premier League, she finished a perfectly respectable 10th in points with four top-10s and after an off-season which included a much talked-about new boyfriend (driver Ricky Stenhouse), Danica impressed many with a wonderful qualifying lap at Daytona.

This won't be Patrick's first run at Daytona - that was last year when she finished 62nd. She's had some solid finishes there in 2011, but really, Daytona's more about luck than skill because in the last 20 laps when everyone's battling it out to be the Daytona 500 leader, someone makes a mistake and 'The Big One' breaks out. And if you're in the middle of that, you're going home, thanking God that you're alive. If Patrick wins, it will be a lucky win. But that can be said for all 45 drivers, too.

How is the old car going to change the way people race?

The old car - named the 'Car of Tomorrow' - was despised by NASCAR fans, owners and drivers. Even race winners Kyle Busch, who won the car's inaugural race at Bristol, said afterwards: "I still can't stand to drive these things. They suck". The view didn't change. The new car, though - called the 'Gen 6' - will be an experiment, with a changed look and a changed chassis.

The aim is to level the playing field and make for a more unpredictable outcome, therefore reducing the dominance of the all-powerful Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush-Fenway teams. That can't be a bad thing, can it? Drivers - who didn't seem to have a problem driving it at Saturday's Sprint Unlimited race - seem to like the way it handles, but we'll have to wait and see. It's going to be fun watching, though!

Will Dale Earnhardt Jr at last win a title?

Dale Earnhardt Jr had a pretty successful 2012, winning at Michigan and becoming a model for consistency in the pre-Chase races. In fact, one could argue that he could have been a real contender for the title in 2012 but he missed two Chase races after a massive crash at Talladega, effectively ending his run for a title.

A lot of people are saying that the level playing field of the new car could help Earnhardt Jr, but he's still got to remain consistent at the one-and-a-half mile tracks - something that five-time Series winner Jimmie Johnson made his bread and butter. Dale Jr is a great driver, but will he remain the greatest? NASCAR's marketing department - and his army of dedicated fans - will certainly be hoping so.

Can Brad Keselowski repeat his 2012 title?

Brad Keselowski was last year's title winner, pipping Jimmie Johnson to the post. He won five races last year, and is a lot of people's favourite to win again in 2013 - particularly with the new car and the rules that will prevent the 'Big Three' (as mentioned earlier) from world dominance, helping his Penske Racing team. What's interesting is that NASCAR's biggest driver, Jimmie Johnson, is already taking pot shots at him, saying that the driver needs to 'mature' now he's Champion.

Sorry Jimmie, but that's up to Penske Racing, isn't it? I'd argue that doing an interview while sipping beer was one of the best advertisements that sponsor Miller Lite could have asked for. I don't see Miller complaining if he does it again at Homestead. But in short, Keselowski's very young, frighteningly talented, and don't be surprised if he wins the title again in 2013.

Who else will battle it out for the Sprint Cup crown?

Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson is always there or thereabouts at the end of the season, but also look for his team-mate Jeff Gordon (who has four titles) to come through, too. Don't be surprised if Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch Clint Bowyer or Tony Stewart are also battling it out.

But the guy who I think might pull it off is Kevin Harvick, who's leaving his Richard Childress Racing team after the end of the season to go to Stewart-Haas in 2014, has a reputation for always sneaking victories when it's least expected. With little pressure on him, I think Harvick will come home with the goods.

back to top

Other Blogs:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

Early assessments

Alex Ferguson says Cincy have shone and Oakland have been appalling in the NFL action so far....

Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....

comments

Gary Neville

Nev: Consistency key for Danny

Gary Neville says Arsene Wenger can turn Danny Welbeck into a great striker, as he did with Thierry Henry....

Graeme Souness

Souness: 'Liverpool lightweight'

Graeme Souness says Liverpool’s defeat in Basel proves that the current side is a shadow of their former selves....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....

comments

Peter Beagrie

Beagrie: Vardy deserves cap

An England call-up would be rich reward for all of Jamie Vardy's hard work, says Peter Beagrie....

Dewi Morris

Morris: Toulon too strong

A Matt Giteau-inspired Toulon should win the Top 14 with some attractive rugby, says Dewi Morris....

Butch Harmon

McGinley beat Watson

Butch Harmon says Paul McGinley out-captained Tom Watson as Europe retained the Ryder Cup....

0 comments

Alex Hammond

Follow Rules

Alex Hammond has checked the formbook and found the first six home in the Cambridgeshire!...

Alex Hammond

Alex Hammond Blog

Alex Hammond looks ahead to another big weekend of racing...

Alex Hammond

Hear the Music!

Alex Hammond looks ahead to the weekend's racing including the feature Betfred Sprint Cup....

View from America

Thoroughbred field

Even without Tiger on top form, the PGA at Valhalla proved golf's elite can thrill, says Simon Veness....

comments

Neal Foulds

Selby steel

New world champion Mark Selby's the master of match play, says Neal Foulds - but what's next for Ronnie?...

comments

Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....

comments

Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Back on track

Lakeside can make it two wins over Belle Vue Aces in four days, says Kelvin Tatum, but it'll be close!...

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Hit the road

Swindon are struggling this season but will fancy their chances at Birmingham, says Kelvin Tatum....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Racing away

Belle Vue are unbeaten at home but Kelvin Tatum asks if they can transfer that form at Swindon....

comments

Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......

comments

Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....

comments

Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....

comments

Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...

0 comments

Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....

2 comments

Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....

0 comments