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Start ‘em Up! NASCAR Pre-season starts tomorrow

Our NASCAR expert, Blake Smith is here to look at tomorrow night’s race.

WBKR Preview: The Sprint Unlimited

                The turkey has been eaten, presents unwrapped, the ball has dropped in New York City and Cupid has made his yearly visit so it can only mean it’s time for one thing … NASCAR!

A combination of 2012 Sprint Cup pole winners and past champions of the Sprint Unlimited will take to the track a couple days earlier than the rest of the competitors in preparation for The Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night, which you’ll hear on WBKR and wbkr.com.

The nineteen drivers entered for Saturday night’s event are Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Ken Schrader, Juan Pablo Montoya, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Carl Edwards. Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte and AJ Allmendinger are eligible but not entered for the event.

In the past this event has been known as the Busch Clash, then as the Budweiser Shootout. When Budweiser moved their sponsorship from the shootout event to Thursday’s Budweiser Duel races, Sprint stepped up to be the sponsor of the pre-season Saturday night race. With the change in sponsorship, Sprint has brought the race into the fans’ hands for the first time. The fans have voted on the 75 lap format as 30/25/20. Fans still have the opportunity to vote on the type of pit stop after the first 30 lap segment and the number of cars eliminated prior to the final 20 lap segment. Fans can vote on these aspects all the way up until the green flag on Saturday night. These aspects of the event will not be given to the competitors until time for the event.

For those fans who are attending Saturday night’s race, they have 3 options to select to determine the starting lineup for the Sprint Unlimited. The choices include: Number of career wins (most to least), 2012 Sprint Cup standings or the order of when drivers earned their pole last season (Daytona to Homestead). In the past, the starting lineup was determined by a draw among competitors on Thursday night.

The nineteen entered for the event will take to the track for the first of 2 practice sessions on Friday evening. Look for teams to spend the first practice shaking down their cars and becoming more familiar with the new generation race car. The second practice will be the more nerve-racking practice sessions for crew chiefs as the drivers begin working in draft formation and finding the competitors they work best with. After watching pre-season testing, look for manufacturers to align within themselves rather than outsource for drafting help from another make.

Saturday night’s event looks to be one of the best Daytona pre-season races in history. Look for fast speeds and unstable cars during the 75-lap event. A driver who has a history of good shootout race results and a driver that can drive on the edge of out of control is Kyle Busch. He is my pick to win this year’s Sprint Unlimited. Tune into Saturday night’s coverage of the Sprint Unlimited beginning at 6PM on WBKR!

Here is some more NASCAR news this week.

Walmart is promoting the “Fan Driven 400” – a program that gives fans a voice in branding the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on June 9 at Pocono Raceway. Through May 27, fans can submit ideas and vote via Walmart’s Local Facebook pages on details including the official race name, a signature concession and the pace car design.

In addition to the Fan Driven 400, Walmart will once again offer its $99 Walmart Family Track Pack, which includes four discounted race tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas– a savings of more than $100, beginning February 15. Walmart will also be hosting in-store events with race car displays, racing simulator machines and special appearances by fan-favorite drivers in every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race market.

 

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