DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The new season is set to officially begin and in the world of NASCAR that means we do it with the biggest race of the season, the 51st edition of the Daytona 500.
I'm excited to be playing the CBS Sports.com Fantasy Racing Challenge this year and look forward to having some fun over the course of the next 40 weeks (wow, that really hits home when you see it in type). I'm confident that I will guide my team - the "Pistol Peters" to victory lane. If you haven't yet, sign up today and join the fun. Trash talking is not really optional - it's encouraged.
Every week prior to the weekend's race I'll give you the latest news and story angles in our exclusive race advance feature and new this year I'll give you my expert (cough cough) fantasy racing picks as we look ahead.
So strap in for what promises to be an exciting and very interesting NASCAR season.
On to the Daytona 500 and a look at five drivers you should consider adding to your team to help score some valuable fantasy racing points:
Kyle Busch - He has been bad fast down here at Speedweeks and came home first in his Gatorade Duel on Thursday. After coming close to winning last year's Daytona 500 and taking the checkered flag in the Fourth of July weekend Coke Zero 400, Busch has made himself the man to beat this Sunday.
Jeff Gordon - By his own admission, his victory in Thursday's Gatorade Duel doesn't officially count since it was a points-paying race. However it was just the confidence-builder Gordon and the No. 24 team needed to kick off the season and rebound from the winless year of 2008.
Brian Vickers - Team Red Bull has improved every season and Vickers has been the man at the front of the ship. The Toyota stable will be strong on Sunday and Vickers is a pretty darn good restrictor plate racer. The No. 83 may turn some heads come Sunday.
Juan Pablo Montoya - Earnhardt Ganassi Racing quiete a bunch of critics (including this one) who weren't sure things were in place after the DEI-Ganassi Racing merger with some fast cars this week. JPM is learning how to draft with the best of them and with a little help the Target car could shoot a bulls-eye on Sunday.
David Stremme - He's in the car that won the 500 a year ago and like last season, the Dodge contingent hasn't shown much in qualifying or the preliminary races, but the right partners could change all that come Sunday.