Many have said that the weekend that occurred at Daytona was the most bizarre that has happened in many years. Rain hampered the entire weekend, even wiping out many competitors in a qualifying session for the Nationwide race. Then after dealing with heavy rain Saturday night, it became a Sunday afternoon event for the Sprint Cup Series, and even then things got more strange.
It rained some more, then a multi-car wreck takes out a third of the field. A green flag run was then followed by the 26-car melee, and finally another major downpour finally had NASCAR pull the plug and call the race done.
Now that the insanity of the third restrictor plate race of the year is behind everyone, NASCAR heads north to a track that has surprisingly seen the plates on the cars, but has also seen it's share of tragedy. NASCAR always heads to New Hampshire with heavy hearts as this weekend teams remember young racers Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin, taken from the racing world far too soon because of crashes in testing sessions.
It still is a difficult track to race at, just over a mile in length and flat as the Great Plains, but it makes for a good challenge for everyone involved. It may mean that some teams are glad to be away from south Florida and now closer to lobster country.
The writers themselves are glad to be away from Daytona, and are certainly glad to take away the element of the unknown when choosing a winner for the race. Here's who they decided will be the winner of Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 301:
Misan Akuya: Tony Stewart
Rob Blount: Kevin Harvick
Always good on flat tracks. Has won at NHMS. Look for his team to get their issues sorted out and back in victory lane this week.
James Broomhead: Denny Hamlin
Billy Fellin: Ryan Newman
The Rocket has three New Hampshire wins and has an average finish of 8th there. If Newman is going to get in the Chase, this weekend is a golden opportunity.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Kara Martin: Jeff Gordon
Ryan O'Hara: Kyle Busch
Dustin Parks: Clint Bowyer
Maybe I'm taking a gamble here because I want to pick Stewart but I just am not ready to go to that team just yet. However, MWR has been strong here, as evident with Brian Vickers winning a year ago. Bowyer is a two-time winner at this track, and of all the MWR cars that can get the job done, I'll take the 5-Hour Energy Toyota.
Patti Rodisch: Clint Bowyer
Aaron Rosser: Ryan Newman
Sal Sigala Jr: Kevin Harvick
Rob Tiongson: Kevin Harvick
I'm thinking, since as you'll find out in a Wally Dallenbach piece I'll share, that the NO. 4 team and Kevin Harvick will be "Happy" in Loudon, NH with a third win for 2014!
Standings after Daytona:
Kara Martin (672) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 14th - 3
Sal Sigala Jr. (647) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 14th - 5
Ryan O'Hara (618) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 14th - 4
Rob Tiongson (614) Jeff Gordon finished 12th - 2
Patti Rodisch (609) Matt Kenseth finished 20th - 2
Billy Fellin (569) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 14th - 1
Dustin Parks (566) Jeff Gordon finished 12th - 2
Rob Blount (548) Kevin Harvick finished 39th - 1
Michael Hirshbein (542) Kyle Busch finished 28th - 1
Aaron Rosser (529) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 14th - 1
Misan Akuya (528) Denny Hamlin finished 6th - 1
James Broomhead (468) NO PICK SENT - 2
Final Remarks: Many drivers have compared this track to Martinsville due to the low banking and sometimes the one-groove corners it possesses. But the track being double the size of Martinsville yields higher speeds, and at the same time some tougher challenges for teams.
It all comes down to 301 laps of action on Sunday, as for the final time, TNT will have coverage beginning at 12 Noon ET.
Summary of Picks: