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SM PICK ‘EM: Daytona 500

New for 2011 is the Pick ‘Em game! Each week, our panel of writers will make their picks for Sprint Cup Series races, picking a driver they really think will win, a darkhorse driver and tell us why they picked the way they did.

Throughout the season, we’ll collect, tally and tabulate the points. They’ll get five points if their “Who I Really Think Will Win” pick wins, three points for a top-five finish, one point if the pick finished 6th through tenth, and no points if they finish outside of the top-ten. The same points apply for darkhorse picks, except points are doubled. So, if the driver the writer thinks will actually win does win and the writer’s darkhorse pick finishes second, they will earn 11 points.

Every Thursday, the Pick ‘Em column will be posted along with updated points standings.

RACE: Daytona 500
DATE: February 20

Last week: Only four writers sucessfully picked a driver who finished in the top-ten and each received one point for doing so.

1. Jeffrey Boswell – 1
1. Kyle Brandt – 1
1. Kyle Ocker – 1
1. Mark Odor – 1
5. Ashley McCubbin – 0
5. Barry Albert – 0
5. Ben Gunby – 0
5. Ed Coombs – 0
5. Matt LaFlair – 0
5. Roberta Cowan – 0
11. Ryan O’Hara – NP


Who I Really Think Will Win: Kevin Harvick

Dark Horse Pick: Trevor Bayne

I’m resisting the strong urge of picking Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win this race, while it pains me to do so. The Earnhardt Childress Racing engines are as close to the best as they can get, it’s tough to pick a driver who hasn’t won in I forgot how long that moved to a new shop and has a new crew over a proven setup in Kevin Harvick. Trevor Bayne was quick in qualifying, quick in practice.  On these restrictor plate races, you never know who is going to win.

Ryan O’Hara

Who I think will really win: Jeff Gordon

My Dark Horse Pick: Greg Biffle

Comments: Gordon is motivated to get back into the winner circle and Biffle was ever so close of winning last year.

Roberta Cowan

Who I Really Think Will Win: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I think he and Steve Letarte are out to make a point. They both have one to make.

Dark Horse: Kevin Harvick

Ed Coombs


MY DARK HORSE PICK: Dale Earnhardt Jr

COMMENTS (optional): I think that the winner will be someone who is running second through sixth when they take the white flag. Will one of my two picks be there? Who knows if they’ll survive the numerous wrecks cause by the bumper drafting that has them attached all the way around the track.

Jeff Burton had a strong car and drafting partner for the shootout and could win his first Daytona 500. I would not count either guy on the front row both some of the best restrictor plate guys out there BUT, it’s a new draft and as we saw during the shootout, it all depends on who you pair up with at the end as to where you’ll end up.

Jeffrey Boswell

Who I Really Think Will Win: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Dark Horse Pick: David Ragan
Comments: Junior pays tribute to Senior with a convincing win in the 500, then celebrates in the infield, spinning out and forming the number “3” in the grass.

Kyle BrandtWho I think will win:
Jeff Gordon – I was really impressed with the 24 in the Bud Shootout. The
Hendrick stable really seems to have their cars dialed in this year at Daytona.

Dark Horse Pick:
Juan Pablo Montoya – I think the 42 has chance to make a statement for himself
here. His experience with the high speeds and full throttle racing will put him
somewhere towards the front come Sunday Afternoon.

Matt LaFlair

Winner: Jeff Gordon. Besides being a three-time winner of the Great American Race, Gordon has been strong throughout Speedweeks thus far and will be starting on the front row for Sunday’s race.

Dark horse: Tony Stewart. I’m again riding the dark horse train for Stewart again this week. Restrictor plate racing has been feast or famine for him, but when it’s good- it’s really good!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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