10 things to know about Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH -- Here are 10 things to know about the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday -- useful tips, tidbits, questions and answers with the hopes of making your race day an experience to remember.

Which driver is favored? Is this a trick question? You don't have to be a gearhead to understand the quirky dynamics of winning a restrictor-plate race on a super-speedway. Luck. A ton of it. Drivers minding their own business often get taken out as part of the collateral damage of a big wreck. That means that all 43 drivers have a shot, except the start-and-park guys.

Would that include Danica Patrick? Yep. Danica has struggled a great deal since her historic run here in February, when she zipped her way to the pole position for the Daytona 500. These high-speed chases are more to her liking, given her background in Indy cars. If her car is fast, she's got a shot.

What about Danica's teammate, Tony Stewart? Tony is the Sultan of Summer here in July. Stewart, the defending Coke Zero 400 champion, will attempt to win a fifth summer Cup race Saturday night, which will tie him alongside NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson for most wins in this race.

One more guy we are curious about, Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson? Sweeping is a tough deal at Daytona. I wouldn't count on it. The last driver to do that was Bobby Allison in 1982, 31 years ago.

Will be there be any celebrities at the track besides all the drivers in firesuits? Sheryl Crow, a nine-time Grammy winner, will perform a special hour-long pre-race concert. Race fans who have purchased a Pre-Race/Sprint FANZONE access pass for the race will be able to watch from the grass tri-oval area. The pre-race ticket package is sold-out, however.

Anyone else? If you see a very tall guy chances are it's Shaquille O'Neal. The former Orlando Magic center will join Adam Sandler and Kevin James -- stars of the upcoming comedy "Grown Ups 2" -- as Grand Marshals for Saturday's race and give the starting command – "Drivers, start your engines."

Fireworks? I want fireworks! Relax. There will be plenty of sparkle and sizzle following Saturday's race. Fireworks By Santore will bring the firepower with a 15-minute show with fireworks shot from 15 different locations located along the backstretch. The show will take seven days and a crew of 10 to set up.

Is there going to be enough star-power in the Nationwide race Friday night to keep me engaged? Why, yes. Please welcome five Sprint Cup drivers will be in the mix in the Subway Firecracker 250:Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth will be in the starting grid, although only Bayne will be eligible for any points. The rest aren't because they are Sprint Cup regulars.

How much are tickets? They range from $10 to $159, excluding special packages. Call 1-800-PITSHOP for assistance.

Now for the pièce de résistance: How do I avoid traffic? Always an issue, especially now with construction along the I-4 corridor from Orlando to Daytona Beach. Here's a thought if you have a parking pass and assured a spot: Go late. Way late. If you time it right, you will breeze into Daytona without a touch of the brakes, except to exit, just prior to 7:30 start-time.

Read George Diaz's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/enfuego or e-mail him at gdiaz@orlandosentinel.com

Featured Stories

Advertisement

PLAN AHEAD

Top Trending Videos