The 2013 edition of Daytona Speed Weeks are in the books and Jimmie Johnson has won the Daytona 500 for the second time in his Hall of Fame Career.
Here are the drivers who made their mark at the Daytona 500.
1) Jimmie Johnson - Five time champions Jimmie Johnson and Chad Kaunas did it again, they laid in the weeds refusing to participate in drafting practice throughout speed weeks only to pop up late and steal the show.
Love them or hate them Kaunas and Johnson aren’t afraid to think outside the box and that’s a big reason why they are five time champions.
2) Matt Kenseth- In his debut for Joe Gibbs Racing Kenseth dominated the 500 only to have mechanical issues prevent him from going back to back in the sports biggest race.
We know Kenseth will be consistent enough to make the Chase and if he can run like he did Sunday all year he might just win his second Cup Title.
3) Danica Patrick- Winning the Pole for Daytona 500 wasn’t a fluke.
Danica proved that by becoming the first woman to lead a Sprint Cup race under green, posting the best finish ever by a woman in a Cup race and by becoming only the 13th driver ever to lead both the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500.
4) Kevin Harvick- Happy Harvick wasn’t much of a threat in the 500 after getting caught up in a lap 33 crash but he had a fantastic Speed Week winning both the Sprint Unlimited and Budweiser Duel.
Harvick seems laser focused on leaving RCR on a high note and if he can avoid silly season distractions he’s my favorite to win the Sprint Cup Championship in 2013.
5) Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Jr almost won his second Daytona 500, but didn’t have enough momentum to pass Johnson who was in the dominate high line.
He was a top contender for the title until concussion issues forced him out of the car. I think Jr will pick up where he left off and once again contend for his first championship.
6) Brad Keselowski- Even with the nose of his car damaged, the champ still almost won the 500. No doubt he’ll be a force to be reckoned with for quite some time.
7) Mark Martin- The ageless wonder came home 3rd and while he still hasn’t won the 500 he earned major cool points for hanging out with rappers 50 cent and T.I. in the pre race.
8) Kyle Busch- Just like his teammate Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch had a race winning car but was sidelined by an engine failure.
Certainly not the start Rowdy wanted after a horrible 2012 season.
9) Ryan Newman- It was a good finish to a tough week as Newman battled illness and a wreck in the Bud Duel to battle back for a top 5 finish which meant free Bloomin Onions and the real reason the “Rocket” made the list.
10) Tony Stewart- Smoke’s Daytona 500 hard luck continued, as he got caught in the same crash that took out Harvick, Kasey Kahne and others.
Just as the 500 eluded Dale Sr for 20 years it seems fate has destined Stewart to wait at least one more year to win the only race missing from his NASCAR resume.