The world center of racing will play host to the NNS under the Friday night lights this weekend for the “Subway Firecracker 250”. Daytona has provided NNS fans with some breath taking action over the years, and Friday’s race promises to live up that standard fans have come to expect from this July favorite.
Storylines will be a plenty for this one. Following a major shake up in the driver standings after Kentucky, you can bet points leader Regan Smith would love to drive his #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet up to the front on Friday night. Smith finished a dismal 30th at Kentucky last weekend costing him tremendously in the points standings. Heading into Friday night race Smith’s once healthy points lead suddenly evaporated. Second place Sam Hornish Jr. is now a mere eight points away from recapturing the top spot. A position he has not held since Richmond. If Hornish Jr. can improve on his most recent finish at Daytona (2nd in February’s race) by one position he would leave the World center of racing your new points leader. Don’t count out Regan Smith just yet; he is a tremendous restrictor plate racer, and is the NNS most recent plate winner (winning at Talladega in May). For whatever reason Smith’s restrictor plate success primarily has come at Talladega whereas his Daytona finishes leave little to be desired, but driving for JR Motorsports could change that Friday night. Smith will be gunning for his 3rd race win of the season and fourth overall with JR Motorsports.
Cole Trickle will not be in the filed on Friday night for the Subway Firecracker 250, but the same legendary paint scheme from Tom Cruise’s popular 1990 film “Days of Thunder” will run laps around the famous Daytona International Speedway with last year’s July NNS race winner Kurt Busch at the wheel. Busch returns to the track with James Finch’s familiar # 1 car in hopes of capturing a repeat victory for the underfunded organization. It’s widely speculated that this perhaps will be Finch’s final run in the series as he is set to close up shop at the end of July. Kurt Busch is no Stanger to running up front each time he gets behind the wheel of a Phoenix Racing entry in the NNS. In five starts with Finch’s group Busch has complied one victory and has finished outside the top 10 only once.
Friday night’s field will have no shortage of NSCS regulars, as the Daytona July race customarily is dominated by those who make their living on Sunday afternoons. In fact a Daytona July race has not been won by a series regular in nine years. The last driver to taste victory as a series regular was Mike Wallace in 2004. NNS regulars Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, and Kyle Larson would love nothing better than to score their first wins of the season by spoiling the NSCS regular’s party.
In addition to Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, and Matt Kenseth invading NNS territory this weekend, the CWTS will also have two of its regulars represented in the field. Highly touted Young guns Ty Dillon and James Buescher will make the trip to Daytona for their 5th and 2nd NNS starts of the season respectively. Buescher is no stranger to NNS action at Daytona. The Plano, TX native snapped Tony Stewart’s consecutive February race winning streak at 4 in February of 2012. An upset win that set the pace for Buescher’s 2012 title run in the CWTS. Buescher will be making his 2nd NNS appearance of the 2013 season on Friday. He finished a solid 14th at Road America two weeks ago. Ty Dillon is set to make his first Daytona NNS start of his career Friday night. Dillon who has seven starts in the NNS dating back to last season has struggled in his previous four 2013 starts after finishing in the top 10 in all of his 2012 NNS starts. A win by either driver on Friday could enhance the likelihood of graduating to series regular status in 2014.
Daytona has produced its fair share of upsets through the years. Friday’s race could produce an ample opportunity for one lucky driver to engrave their name into the NNS record book. None would be appealing than to see the likes of Travis Pastrana, Jeffrey Earnhardt, or Kevin Swindell cross the finish line first. Each driver listed here carries an impressive amount of proven racing pedigree. Pastrana a former AMA champion as well a 10 time X Games gold medalist remains committed to achieving success in NASCAR despite his less than perfect numbers through 24 career starts. Provided RFR shows Pastrana some loyal commitment through his transition there’s no reason they can’t find success with one another. Pastrana has improved greatly over the past month, finishing in the top 20 in 4 of the last 5 races. A win from Pastrana on Friday night would undoubtedly be one of the more popular wins in recent NNS history.
The name Earnhardt is synonymous with NASCAR restrictor plate racing on the high banks of Daytona and Talladega. Both Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Jr. have accounted for 34 restrictor plate wins between NSCS & NNS competition. Another young man with the last name Earnhardt surely would like to add his name to the winning family legacy. Dale Sr’s grandson Jeffrey Earnhardt could do just that if he were to pull off an upset victory at the track that claimed his legendary grandfather’s life in 2001. For those of you who crave feel good stories, how about this one?
Race pick- Kyle Larson powers his way through the field, to score his first career victory on the high banks of Daytona Friday night.
Photo courtesy of Zimbio.com