NEXTEL Daytona 500

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Daytona 500 Preview

Feb 18, 2007 - 11:18 AM
February 18, 2007
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida
Race 1 of 37 on Nextel Cup circuit

TV: FOX, 2 p.m. EST

Laps: 200
Track length: 2 1/2 miles
Race length: 500 miles

Qualifying record: Bill Elliott, Ford, 210.364 mph, 1987
Race record: Buddy Baker, Oldsmobile, 177.602 mph, 1980


Greg Biffle
Team: Roush Racing
Car: No. 16 Ford Fusion
2006 Earnings: $4,602,716

Hopes to bounce back from a disappointing 2006 season in which
he recorded just two victories and eight top-five finishes en
route to 13th place in the standings; captured checkered flags
at Darlington and at the season-finale at Homestead-Miami;
series runner-up in 2005 struggled to 31st place in this event
last season; captured the pole here in 2004 and finished 12th,
his best career finish in this race.

Jeff Burton
Team: Richard Childress Racing
Car: No. 31 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $5,008,882

One of the circuit's most consistent drivers finished seventh in
last season's standings, his best finish since a third place
with Roush Racing in 2000; jumpstarted his outstanding campaign
by capturing the pole in this race last season, one of his four
poles in 2006; recorded 20 top-10 finishes last season, the
third-highest total in the series; was a runner-up to Dale
Jarrett in this event in 2000, his best career running of this

Kurt Busch
Team: Penske Racing South
Car: No. 2 Dodge Charger
2006 Earnings: $5,026,137

Struggled through inconsistency and bad luck last season, his
first at Penske Racing South; collected a series-leading six
poles but managed just seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s;
finished 38th in this event last season but registered three
top-five finishes in the previous four years; won the Nextel
Chase for the Championship in 2004 but was released from his
contract at Roush Racing after the following season, when he
finished 10th in the standings but was suspended for the final
two races after an incident with the Phoenix police.

Kyle Busch
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Car: No. 5 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $4,821,093

Looks to build off a sensational sophomore season in which he
qualified for the Chase and finished 10th in the standings;
sputtered down the stretch, placing outside the top 10 in seven
of the 10 Chase races; struggled to 23rd place in this event
last season but was runner-up to Tony Stewart in the Pepsi 400
at this track last July.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Team: Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Car: No. 8 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $5,466,104

Will have to overcome recent distractions stemming from his
ongoing contract negotiations with DEI; bounced back nicely from
a poor 2005 campaign by qualifying for the Chase last season
and finishing fifth in the standings; ran eighth in this race
last season and took the checkered flag in 2004, three years
after his legendary father lost his life during the 43rd running
of the event on February 18, 2001; traditionally has fared well
on superspeedways, collecting seven wins, 13 top-five finishes
and 17 top-10s in 28 career starts.

Carl Edwards
Team: Roush Racing
Car: No. 99 Ford Fusion
2006 Earnings: $4,578,926

Another Roush driver looking for redemption in 2007; placed
third in the standings in 2005 but managed just 12th place last
season, failing to record a victory despite recording 10
top-five finishes and 20 top-10s; placed last in the 43-car
field here last year after crashing in lap 79.

David Gilliland
Team: Robert Yates Racing
Car: No. 38 Ford Fusion
2006 Earnings: $1,521,450

Became the fourth driver to win the Daytona 500 pole in his first
attempt, joining Loy Allen in 1994, Mike Skinner in 1997 and
Jimmie Johnson in 2002; finished second to Tony Stewart in the
Bud Shootout on Saturday night; his teammate Ricky Rudd joins
him on the pole in Daytona; made 15 starts last season in
the Cup Series after replacing Elliott Sadler as the driver of
Robert Yates Racing's No. 38; his best finishes were 15th in
both the UAW-Ford 500 and the Bass Pro Shops 500; started on
the pole in the UAW-Ford 500.

Denny Hamlin
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Car: No. 11 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $4,389,222

Enjoyed a breakthrough rookie campaign in 2006, recording two
wins, eight top-five finishes and 20 top-10s en route to third
place in the standings and the Raybestos Rookie of the Year
award; was terrific down the stretch in the postseason, placing
inside the top 10 in each of the last five races; won the
Budweiser Shootout, a non-points 75 lap race here last season;
struggled in this race, however, placing 30th.

Kevin Harvick
Team: Richard Childress Racing
Car: No. 29 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $6,201,578

Was one of the top drivers on the circuit last season,
collecting five checkered flags, 15 top-five finishes and 20
top-10s en route to placing fourth in the standings, his highest
career finish; placed 14th in this event last season; also won
the Busch Series championship last season.

Jeff Gordon
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Car: No. 24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $5,975,873

Four-time series champion bounced back from an awful 2005
campaign by qualifying for the Chase last season; finished sixth
in the standings, capturing two checkered flags, 14 top-five
finishes and 18 top-10s; three-time Daytona 500 champion
finished 26th in this event last season; won this race from the
pole in 2000 in the first defense of his 1999 series
championship; since that victory here, has taken a total of just
11 checkered flags in 249 races.

Jimmie Johnson
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Car: No. 48 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $8,909,143

Ended years of ongoing futility by capturing his first career
championship last season, capturing five victories, 13 top-five
finishes and a series-leading 24 top-10s; kicked off his
groundbreaking campaign by winning the checkered flag here, his
first career victory in this race; also won the Allstate 400 at
the Brickyard to become the first driver in series history to
capture checkered flags at Daytona and Indianapolis in the same
season; has registered four consecutive top-five finishes in
this race.

Kasey Kahne
Team: Evernham Motorsports
Car: No. 9 Dodge Charger
2006 Earnings: $6,204,222

Qualified for the Chase for the first time in his three-year
career last season, capturing a series-leading six poles and six
checkered flags; struggled with consistency and equipment at
times, however, placing outside the top 20 a total of 14 times;
finished 11th in this race last season, his best finish in this

Matt Kenseth
Team: Roush Racing
Car: No. 17 Ford Fusion
2006 Earnings: $6,608,919

Finished second in the standings last season, just 56 points
behind Johnson; owned an early lead in the postseason before
faltering down the stretch; collected four checkered flags, a
series-leading 15 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s; placed 15th
in this race last season and has two top-10 finishes in seven
career starts in this event; won the series championship in 2003
despite capturing only one checkerd flag, prompting NASCAR to
change to its current Chase format.

Ricky Rudd
Team: Robert Yates Racing
Car: No. 88 Ford Fusion
2006 Earnings: N/A

Starts on the front row along with teammate David Gilliland;
took off last year because he was "burned out" from a career that
started when he was 18; signed with Robert Yates Racing in
December; the 50-year-old will start on the pole for
Thursday's first Gatorade Duel 150; finished 11th in his last
start at Daytona in 2005; won the Daytona 500 in 1983.

Tony Stewart
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Car: No. 20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2006 Earnings: $7,285,281

Barely missed qualifying for the Chase but was outstanding in
the final 10 races and would have won the title under NASCAR's
new postseason format, which includes the top 12 drivers in the
standings after 26 regular-season races; collected five
checkered flags, 15 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s last
season; placed fifth in this race last season, one of his two
career top-five finishes in this event; has two career series
titles, including one in 2005.

2006 Top 10
1. Jimmie Johnson (48), Chevrolet
2. Casey Mears (42), Dodge
3. Ryan Newman (12), Dodge
4. Elliott Sadler (38), Ford
5. Tony Stewart (20), Chevrolet
6. Clint Bowyer (07), Chevrolet
7. Brian Vickers (25), Chevrolet
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8), Chevrolet
9. Ken Schrader (21), Ford
10. Dale Jarrett (88), Ford

Past Champions
2006 Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 142.667 mph
2005 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 135.173 mph
2004 Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 156.345 mph
2003 Michael Waltrip, Chevrolet, 133.870 mph
2002 Ward Burton, Dodge, 130.810 mph
2001 Michael Waltrip, Chevrolet, 161.794 mph
2000 Dale Jarrett, Ford, 155.669 mph
1999 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 161.551 mph
1998 Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 172.712 mph
1997 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 148.295 mph
1996 Dale Jarrett, Ford, 154.308 mph
1995 Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 141.710 mph
1994 Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 156.931 mph
1993 Dale Jarrett, Chevrolet, 154.972 mph
1992 Davey Allison, Ford, 168.256 mph
1991 Ernie Irvan, Chevrolet, 148.148 mph
1990 Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 165.761 mph
1989 Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet, 148.466 mph
1988 Bobby Allison, Buick, 137.531 mph
1987 Bill Elliott, Ford, 176.263 mph
1986 Geoff Bodine, Chevrolet, 148.124 mph
1985 Bill Elliott, Ford, 172.265 mph
1984 Cale Yarborough, Chevrolet, 150.994 mph
1983 Cale Yarborough, Pontiac, 155.979 mph
1982 Bobby Allison, Buick, 153.991 mph
1981 Richard Petty, Buick, 169.651 mph
1980 Buddy Baker, Oldsmobile, 177.602 mph
1979 Richard Petty, Oldsmobile, 143.977 mph
1978 Bobby Allison, Ford, 159.730 mph
1977 Cale Yarborough, Chevrolet, 153.218 mph
1976 David Pearson, Mercury, 152.181 mph
1975 Benny Parsons, Chevrolet, 153.649 mph
1974 Richard Petty, Dodge, 140.894 mph
1973 Richard Petty, Dodge, 157.205 mph
1972 A.J. Foyt, Mercury, 161.550 mph
1971 Richard Petty, Plymouth, 144.462 mph
1970 Pete Hamilton, Plymouth, 149.601 mph
1969 LeeRoy Yarbrough, Ford, 157.950 mph
1968 Cale Yarborough, Mercury, 143.251 mph
1967 Mario Andretti, Ford, 146.926 mph
1966 Richard Petty, Plymouth, 160.627 mph
1965 Fred Lorenzen, Ford, 141.539 mph
1964 Richard Petty, Plymouth, 154.334 mph
1963 Tiny Lund, Ford, 151.566 mph
1962 Fireball Roberts, Pontiac, 152.529 mph
1961 Marvin Panch, Pontiac, 149.601 mph
1960 Junior Johnson, Chevrolet, 124.740 mph
1959 Lee Petty, Oldsmobile, 135.521 mph