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Ken de la Bastide: NASCAR kicks off this weekend with Daytona 500

Feb. 13—Now that the Super Bowl is history, the attention of a lot of sports fans will shift to Florida for the opening of the NASCAR season.

There are 42 teams entered for the Daytona 500 on Sunday, which means two teams will head home following qualifications and the two qualifying races.

Pole qualifying is set for Wednesday with the twin qualifying races set for Thursday.

Leading the list of drivers who will have to race their way into the starting field is seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

Other drivers having to race their way in include David Ragan, BJ McLeod, Kaz Grala, Anthony Alfredo and one team with an entry and no driver named.

I would expect Johnson to make the starting field, and the two teams headed home will probably be the team with no named driver and Alfredo.

Johnson is driving a Toyota and has John Hunter Nemechek and Eric Jones as teammates.

Daytona is one of those races where everyone anticipates the "big one" that will eliminate many of the cars from any chance of winning the race.

Drivers will search for drafting partners throughout the race hoping to make the right decision for the final run to the checkered flag.

Some teams will use the strategy of running at the back of the pack for much of the race to avoid the wrecks and making a late-race charge at the finish.

I suspect the race will come down to drivers in a Chevrolet or Toyota, with a favorite having to be Kyle Larson.

The race with local interest is the ARCA Menards Series event Saturday.

Local driver Greg VanAlst is hoping to make it two wins in a row at Daytona and has a teammate car driven by Isaac Johnson.

Fifty teams will attempt to make the 40-car starting field for the ARCA 200.

Just as with the Daytona 500, the key to winning the ARCA race is to avoid trouble with other competitors.

The entry list includes former IndyCar driver Marco Andretti, looking to make his first start at Daytona in a stock car.

This week, there has been plenty of racing on FloRacing with USAC sprints in action and the World Series of Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna Speedway.

I watched a good NASCAR Whelen Modified race Saturday with veteran driver Ron Silk emerging as the winner in an exciting race.

I have always wished the NASCAR Modifieds would return to Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for an event.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.