5 Things We Learned at Daytona
With a few hundred yards left in the Coke Zero 400, Stewart made a move to pass
More significant, Stewart showed at Daytona that he'll be a serious threat to win at Talladega -- another restrictor plate track -- on Nov. 1 in the seventh race of the Chase. Stewart had the dominant car on Saturday, leading a race-high 86 laps, and you can be sure he'll take this same car to 'Dega, where Stewart came in 23rd earlier this season. Talladega is the only restrictor-plate track in the Chase, and it's regarded as the biggest wildcard race in the playoff because it's so easy to get caught up in a wreck. But the best way to avoid trouble on plate tracks is stay near the front, and it certainly looks like Stewart will be able to do that in November based on his impressive run at Daytona.
Back in '05, Stewart went on an absolute tear over the summer, winning five times in seven starts. This season Stewart has now won twice in the last five races and there's little reason to think he'll cool down anytime soon. After all, Stewart has more career wins in the months of July and August (13) than any other active driver. He grew up racing on dirt, where the cars slip and slide on every lap. In the summer months, as the temperatures rise, the paved tracks on the Cup schedule become slicker, which plays right into Stewart's hands.
Plus, Stewart now holds a 180-point lead in the standings over
Martin has never been shy about expressing his disdain for restrictor-plate racing. In April, he wrecked early at Talladega and on Saturday night he crashed into the wall on Lap 13 when he made contact with
Any chance Earnhardt had at making a charge up the standings to challenge for a spot in the Chase was snuffed out Saturday night. On lap 77, he got caught up in a wreck that took him out of the race. He finished 39th and is now 21st in the standings. Incredibly, rookie
Edwards authored a nice run at Daytona, finishing fifth. There's a strong feeling in the garage that Edwards, who has yet to reach Victory Lane this season, is poised to win multiple races over the next few weeks. He's my pick to win on Saturday night in Chicago. I'll explain why later this week.