The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season gets underway Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway for the Sprint Unlimited. The 75-lap event is a non-points exhibition race, but depending on who is at the front at the end could be a great indication of who will be strong for the upcoming Daytona 500.
This year a field of 25 cars will take to the high-banks, considerably larger than last year’s 18. Even with one of the biggest fields in recent memory, four drivers will not participate in the race: AJ Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Brian Scott, and David Gilliland.
Checkers or Wreckers
This race welcomes the aggressive driver. During the event last year a massive wreck trimmed the 18-car field down to eight, and was eventually won by Denny Hamlin. With a considerably larger field equal to that of a Gatorade Duel qualifying race, this could easily be much of the same story at the end as drivers will try to avoid the “Big One.” Drivers will gamble, putting their car in harm’s way with uncharacteristically aggressive moves not normally seen in a typical Sprint Cup race. The Sprint Unlimited is about one thing, winning, with no points on the line consistency doesn’t matter.
All the drivers in the event are seasoned restrictor-plate racers, and have had good runs at one time or another with this style of racing. From Danica Patrick to Jeff Gordon, anyone can win. It’s about finding the right person to work with and staying out of trouble, because if you are around at the end you have a shot.
Show Me the Money
Now, while there certainly are no sleepers, there are drivers that just have a habit for showing up when there is money to be won. Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have a knack for this race. Both drivers from Stewart-Haas Racing are three-time winners of the Sprint Unlimited and always perform strong at the 2.5-mile track.
Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is always a lock to steal the spotlight. A two-time winner of the event and defending Daytona 500 champion, Earnhardt always has an uncanny ability to manipulate the draft and will his No. 88 to the front.
Lastly, the defending Sprint Unlimited champion Denny Hamlin. A two-time winner of the race in his own right, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver never fails to show up when the lights are on.
According to Las Vegas, Earnhardt and Harvick are the favorites to win at 10/1, along with Kyle Busch.
With the announcement that this was his last full-time season in Sprint Cup, four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon will look to do something he hasn’t done in nearly two decades, win the Sprint Unlimited. Gordon, two-time winner of the event, will look to bring back some classic magic and continue to add to his already illustrious career. Is there a possibility he could run this event in the future? Yes. However, Saturday night could very well be the last time we see the future NASCAR Hall of Famer.
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