Are you ready?  This Sunday is the running of the 54th Daytona 500 and the start of the 2012 NASCAR season.  As usual, with this historic race, it is anyone’s game.  Last year a rookie, Trevor Bayne took the checkered flag and the year before Jamie McMurray took the Daytona Checkered flag for the first time.  Looking back at the history of the race, I can’t help but think we are overdue for a veteran to take the flag this year.  Carl Edwards has the pole alongside teammate Greg Biffle driving for Roush Fenway Racing and in the Ford Fusion.

Daytona Trophy

With the Gatorade Duels in the books the field is set for Sunday’s opener for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (or as you old timers out there still call it, the Winston Cup).  The 43 drivers set for the race, leaving six drivers out in the cold to watch the race on Sunday.  Notably, those who did not make it are Michael Waltrip and Bill Elliot, both former winners, and Mike Wallace, Kenny Wallace, J.J. Yeley, and Robert Richardson.

The top ten starting positions are listed below.  (Full Lineup)

1              99           Carl Edwards      Ford                       Fastenal

2              16           Greg Biffle          Ford                       3M

3              14           Tony Stewart     Chevrolet            Office Depot / Mobil 1

4              17           Matt Kenseth    Ford                       Best Buy

5              88           Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet       Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard

6              78           Regan Smith       Chevrolet            Furniture Row / CSX “Play it Safe”

7              9              Marcos Ambrose             Ford                       Stanley

8              48           Jimmie Johnson                Chevrolet            Lowe’s

9              31           Jeff Burton         Chevrolet            Caterpillar

10           33           Elliott Sadler       Chevrolet            General Mills / Kroger

Also of note is Jeff Gordon in 16th position, Kyle Busch in 14th, Kevin Harvick in 13th, Denny Hamlin in 31st, Trevor Bayne in 40th (defending champion), and Terry Labonte in 43rd under Champion’s Provisional, which allows a past champ to enter the race when he has not qualified.  Also of note, Danica Patrick, after a wild finish in Gatorade Duel #1, is starting in 29th (Full Story).

I can’t wait for Sunday at noon.  I will be sitting in front of the TV with friends all set to see the start of the race.  Who do you think is going to win?  My prediction is that a veteran is going to take the race.  I think the front runners to win are Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, and Jeff Gordon.  I excited to hear them stay two phrases on Sunday: “Gentlemen, start your engines” (Does that change with Danica in the lineup?) and “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, Let’s Go Racing Boys!”