Daytona 500 preview: Time to party

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 21: Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

It’s time to get this party started. The lineup has been set and the green flag is ready to fall on the 55th running of the Daytona 500, the Great American Race and the start of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season. The end to Speedweeks is the most anticipated race of the season and winning carries more significance than anywhere else.

After last Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited and Thursday’s Duel qualifying races, choosing favorites is a bit easier. But the 500 is also one of the longest and more grueling races in motorsports so anything can and usually will happen.

The top driver so far this week has been Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing team. Harvick won last Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited and repeated the performance Thursday during the first Duel. MORE>>>

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Keep warm on cold nights at the track in Official NASCAR Jackets at Store.NASCAR.com

Keep warm on cold nights at the track in Official NASCAR Jackets at Store.NASCAR.com