3 things to watch
1. Can the Roush Fenway Racing cars finish what they've started? Carl Edwards won the pole for the 500, Matt Kenseth won a qualifying race and all three will start fourth or better.
2. Trevor Bayne is looking to become just the fourth driver to win consecutive Daytona 500s. The others to accomplish the feat were Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95).
3. Today's race could mark the 200th Cup series victory for Hendrick Motorsports. HMS has been holding at 199 since Jimmie Johnson's victory last October at Kansas Speedway.
One thing has been abundantly clear during Speedweeks: No one should undercut or criticize the work NASCAR has done over the years in regards to driver safety. Some of the accidents that have unfolded over the past week in the Daytona qualifying races and Friday night's Truck race might well have claimed the lives of the drivers involved a decade ago. Instead, drivers like Danica Patrick and Joey Coulter walked away from their vehicles on their own power.
Florida's Republican presidential primary was held in January but the top two candidates still in the mix will have visible roles at the Daytona 500. Mitt Romney, who won the Florida primary, will make an in-person visit to the track before the race. Rick Santorum's campaign is sponsoring the No. 26 Ford driven by Tony Raines in the race.
Observer fantasy picks
Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne
Robinson not happy with attention showered on Patrick: Apparently the first woman to win a pole in what now is the NASCAR Nationwide Series is not all that happy with the attention being lauded on the most recent.
On Saturday, Shawna Robinson, who became the first woman to win a pole during March 1994 at Atlanta, posted the following message on her Facebook page:
"OK I've held it in long enough!!! It's not that hard to qualify at Daytona or Talladega!! Race, draft yes ... qualifying is CAR! If only POLAROID would have been the event sponsor and I was driving for Tony!!"
Robinson was referring to Danica Patrick, who won the pole for Saturday's series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Her reference to Tony Stewart is likely related to Patrick's Sprint Cup Series team, but in the Nationwide series Patrick drives for JR Motorsports, owned in part by driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In fairness, Patrick did assign much of the credit for the pole-winning run to crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and her team for building a fast car.
Robinson made 61 starts in what is now the Nationwide Series, winning one pole with one top-10 finish, a 10th in 1994 at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Gilliland, Bayne lead final practice: David Gilliland and Trevor Bayne, who finished third and first respectively in last year's Daytona 500, led the way in Saturday's final Cup practice.
Temperatures were 20 degrees cooler than Friday and both Gilliland and Bayne topped the 200 mph mark. Gilliland led the way at 200.138 mph.
Seven drivers, including last year's champion Tony Stewart, elected not to practice. The others: Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Casey Mears, Terry Labonte and Landon Cassill.