Picking a winner at a restrictor-plate track is like picking the correct lottery numbers: It's just a wild guess. And so despite the many 2011 Daytona 500 predictions out there, no one really knows who's going to win.
It's not like making an educated guess at Martinsville – where Jimmie Johnson has dominated – or at Pocono – where Denny Hamlin has been successful over the years.
At Daytona, it's a crapshoot. But we're not going to let that stop us.
Later today, Kevin Harvick will drive into Victory Lane as the winner of his second Daytona 500.
Why are we counting on Harvick? For several reasons.
First, Harvick began to master the two-car draft strategy before most others. In the spring race at Talladega last year, he pushed Jamie McMurray all the way through Turn 4 on the final lap, then ditched him in a perfectly-timed move to win the race.
Harvick understands not only how to use the two-car draft, but how to win with it. And he has more going for him than just the race strategy.
The Richard Childress Racing driver also has ideal power under his hood. The RCR teams use engines from Earnhardt Childress Racing (ECR) Technologies – a combination between RCR and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
These engines are the best in the field – and particularly good at restrictor-plate tracks. ECR-powered cars won every plate race last year (Bud Shootout, Daytona 500, July Daytona race and both Talladegas).
While another ECR-powered car like Jamie McMurray or Clint Bowyer could also easily win, Harvick is going to be the one with the best position in the end.
He'll come off Turn 4 as the pusher for one of his teammates – probably Bowyer – make the correct last-second move and capture the checkered flag for new sponsor Budweiser.