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Your guide to today’s Daytona 500By Jim Utter

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  • Race facts

    Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.

    Track type: 2.5-mile highly banked, paved, tri-oval

    Race distance: 200 laps or 500 miles

    Weather: High near 80 with 50 percent chance of thunderstorms.

    TV: Coverage begins at noon on Fox. Green flag is 1:30 p.m.

    Radio: Motor Racing Network



Glen Wood’s Daytona 500 streak stays alive

The patriarch of the famous Wood Brothers team, Glen Wood, thought this might be the year he would end his 67-year streak of attending NASCAR’s biggest race, the Daytona 500.

His sons, Eddie and Len, had other plans.

“I think it means more to my family or at least Len and Eddie because I’ve been here so many times,” said Glen, 88. “I’ve been to every one since 1947, so this makes 68.

“They didn’t want me to stop that, but I told them I’m getting old and it has to stop before long, but they told me it wasn’t going to be this time.”

Eddie had Glen meet him at 9 a.m. Friday morning in Concord and Eddie began driving his dad’s car. The two stopped for lunch in St. George, S.C. Glen took over the driving and finished the trip to Daytona.

“We went to dinner (Friday night) with Edsel Ford and it was just like everything was like it was supposed to be,” Eddie said. “It was like a piece was missing and things weren’t going right.

“Then Trevor (Bayne) runs a great race, Dad is here and everything is complete.”

Notebook

Winners to be recognized: Due in large part to the change in this year’s championship Chase format and its emphasis on wins, all winners in the Cup series will now receive a winner decal to display on their car, next to the driver’s name, much like football players get stickers on their helmets for big plays. The first recipient is the winner of Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Final practice update: Kurt Busch led Saturday’s final pre-500 practice session, he posted an average lap speed of 197.624 mph. Only 27 of the 43 drivers entered in the race participated in practice – most did not want to risk damaging their cars. Kasey Kahne was second fastest, Jamie McMurrray was third, Carl Edwards fourth and Martin Truex Jr. was fifth.

Truex gets up to speed: Truex ran 13 laps in his backup car during Saturday’s practice session. It was the first time on the track for his new No. 78 Chevrolet. His main car was wrecked in Thursday night’s qualifying race.

“I was definitely relieved to get some time in the car,” said Truex. “Honestly, I am really excited about this race car. Without a shadow of a doubt this car is better than the one we ran the other night in the qualifying race.”


Three things to watch

1. So far, Speedweeks has been pretty much an exhibition show for Joe Gibbs Racing drivers. Denny Hamlin won the Sprint Unlimited, Hamlin and Matt Kenseth won the Budweiser Duel qualifying races and Kyle Busch won the Truck race.

2. Marcos Ambrose has flown under the radar but has been fast all week, finishing seventh in the Unlimited and third in Thursday’s first qualifying race. He also posted the 11th fastest speed in qualifying.

3. The Front Row Motorsports duo of David Ragan and David Gilliland were very successful on restrictor-plate races last season, with Ragan earning a victory at Talladega, Ala., and Gilliland finishing 15th or better in three of the four events.


Observations

• Could Austin Dillon not only win the pole for the season’s biggest race, but also win it? No reason why not. The eventual 500 winner has started from the pole nine times, most recently in 2000 when Dale Jarrett did it. Others to accomplish the feat: Fireball Roberts (1962), Richard Petty (1966), Cale Yarborough (1968, ’84), Buddy Baker (1980), Bill Elliott (1985, ’87) and Jeff Gordon (1999). More drivers have won the race from the pole than any other position.

• Tony Stewart has worked hard to get back into the car after a violent wreck last summer in a dirt car race left him with two broken bones in his right leg. His first points race back comes in NASCAR’s biggest race – and one of the few milestones Stewart has not reached in his career. He’s gone 0-for-15 in the 500, with a best finish of second in 2004, and he’s finished outside the top 10 in each of the last four 500s.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy racing team:

Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Matt Kenseth

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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