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Raceday: Your guide to Saturday's Sprint Unlimited at Daytona

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Feb. 15, 2013

Three things to watch

1 . While he didn’t make the Chase last season Kyle Busch was one of the best performing drivers in the final 10 races. He also won this race a year ago.

2 . Fans play a big role in Saturday night’s race – voting will continue until race time on whether pit stops will be utilized in the event and whether any cars will be eliminated.

3 . This could well be Mark Martin’s final Unlimited race at Daytona. He has one win in the event, coming in 1999.

Observations

• I’m all for fan involvement in NASCAR but it’s kind of hard to promote a race like the Sprint Unlimited when almost all of the details – race length, starting lineup and various other rules – are not determined until the day of the event. It must be even harder for competitors to prepare. Perhaps, though, that was NASCAR’s intent. There’s nothing more unpredictable than something thrown together at the last minute.

• We should get a pretty good idea of what kind of racing the new model Sprint Cup Series cars will produce in next week’s Daytona 500 from Saturday night’s race. There are enough laps in the three segments where it will soon become clear whether any form of bump-drafting will be used and how well the cars run together in a pack.

• Several good talented young drivers get a chance to shine at Daytona Saturday in the Automobile Racing Club of America series season opener. Several, including Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Brennan Newberry, plan to be around next week for the NASCAR season openers in Trucks and Nationwide.

Utter’s best bet

Look for a Kyle Busch repeat. He likes to go fast in a very short period of time.

Race facts

Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Track type: 2.5-mile paved, high-banked oval

Race distance: 75 laps (3 segments)

Weather: High near 70 with 20 percent chance of thunderstorms.

TV: Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox. Green flag is 8:29 p.m.

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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