Nationwide Series season gets underway Saturday in Daytona

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Chrissy Wallace: the other female racer in Saturday's Nationwide race via nascar-assets.americaneagle.com credit  John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR (3/28/2008)



With all the media attention placed on Danica Patrick's entry into NASCAR with Saturday's Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, the other 42 drivers who'll be competing this weekend seem to have pretty much been forgotten.

Not only will Patrick be only one driver among the 43 who will start Saturday's race, she won't even be the only female making her Nationwide Series debut -- that is if Chrissy Wallace can put up a lap during Friday's qualifying session to get herself into the show. If Wallace can get into Saturday's DRIVE4COPD 300, she and her father Mike Wallace will make series history by becoming the first father/daughter tandem to compete against each other in Nationwide Series competition. The father/daughter duo has already laid claim to that very same milestone in Camping World Truck Series competition.

 

Unlike Chrissy Wallace, Patrick already knows she'll be competing on Saturday, as JR Motorsports acquired the owner's points from CJM Racing's No. 11 team from a year ago.

Patrick and Wallace will have stiff competition in the DRIVE4COPD 300. No fewer than 14 double-duty drivers are entered. Saturday's field is also expected to include eight former Nationwide Series champions and six former Daytona Nationwide Series race winners. Of those six, four of them are winners of the February Daytona event, including Patrick's boss, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart.

While there'll be many familiar faces in Saturday's race -- including Earnhardt Jr., Stewart, and reigning series champ Kyle Busch -- there'll be many new faces, aside from Patrick and Wallace, and other familiar drivers who will be adjusting to new rides. Five rookie of the year candidates, all but one of them making their Daytona debut in the Nationwide Series, will also be embarking on their quest to claim Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors at season's end.

Some of the drivers hoping to gel with new organizations include John Wes Townley, who moved from RAB Racing to the greener pastures of Richard Childress Racing during the offseason, and Brad Keselowski, who made the move to Penske Racing to pursue a full-time Sprint Cup career in addition to his Nationwide efforts.

Things are bound to get interesting during Saturday's race. After all, it's restrictor plate racing at Daytona, and if that's not enough to possibly make this weekend's event a crap shoot, throw in the fact that it's the first race of the new season, and teams are going to be knocking off some rust that may have accumulated during the winter and many of them also searching for chemistry with their new driver, crew chief, and or other crew members.

Saturday's DRIVE4COPD 300 will air live on ESPN2 at noon ET.

Follow Amanda and her NASCAR news coverage on Twitter or become a fan of NASCAR Examiner on Facebook. You can also read more from her at NASCAR Nationwide Series Examiner and Louisville NASCAR Examiner.
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