There's not many guarantees in life, except maybe for death and taxes.  In NASCAR, there are just certain things that are promises.  Some are that the green flag starts the race, the checkered flag ends it, and come the end of 36 races, a champion is crowned.

The season-opening event had ever sort of twist that could be expected heading into the first wave of green.  A female starting on pole, a driver going for a sweep of Speedweeks, a team hoping to get back to it's form, a brand new car making it's first points-race appearance, and the defending series champion starting his follow-up season.

But at the end of 200 laps, and 500 miles, a usual face would be the one hoisting the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

That man...the one that's simply known as "Five-Time.  Yes indeed, the driver that competed for the championship one year ago only to have issues in the final race keeping him from a six-pack, would be the first to taste victory at the end of the afternoon.

Jimmie Johnson, a man who's resume in just 11 seasons has garnered Hall of Fame worthy statistics, would put his Lowe's Chevrolet in victory lane to start the 2013 season.  The last time he won the biggest race of the year, he went onto win the first of five consecutive championships.

There's already a chance he could do it again, but it will take 25 more regular season races plus a 10-race Chase to determine that.

As for the writers, all but one had reason to smile come the end of the day.  Only three would see the checkered flag, with 10 writers suffering a DNF to start the year.

Take a look at how the points stand after just one race, the Daytona 500:


Patti Rodisch (37) Danica Patrick finished 8th (0)

Ryan O'Hara (25) Jeff Gordon finished 20th (0)

Rob Tiongson (25) Jeff Gordon finished 20th (0)

Michael Hirshbein (10) Kyle Busch finished 34th (0)

Sal Sigala Jr. (10) Kyle Busch finished 34th (0)

Kelly Crandall (9) Matt Kenseth finished 37th (0)

Misan Akuya (3) Tony Stewart finished 41st (0)

Dustin Parks (3) Tony Stewart finished 41st (0)

Rob Blount (2) Kevin Harvick finished 42nd (0)

James Broomhead (2) Kevin Harvick finished 42nd (0)

Billy Fellin (2) Kevin Harvick finished 42nd (0)

Christopher Leone (2) Kevin Harvick finished 42nd (0)

Kara Martin (2) Kevin Harvick finished 42nd (0)


Next Race:  Well, now that all the festivities and the extravaganza that is known as the "Great American Race" has concluded, the rest of the season can begin.  NASCAR has a turnaround of going from one corner of the country to the other, and when they arrive at their next destination, they will be met with cactus plants, tumbleweeds, and a lot of sand.

NASCAR heads west to the "Jewel in the Desert," the Phoenix International Raceway.  No restrictor plates, no short spoilers, no drafting.  It's a new race, and new transitions for the new Generation-6 car, so every driver will have to adapt all over again.

Writers, it's been a rough start to the season, but get dusted off, and focus.  Your picks for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 are due by 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 28.