NASCAR's Drive Up to the Daytona 500

29) The Carl

The mysterious phantom punch last fall at Martinsville exposed the chasm between Roush Fenway's five drivers, especially Edwards versus buddies Biffle and Kenseth. Why do I think that deep down Jack Roush enjoys that?

30) Green-white-checker finishes

There have been fewer than 30 GWC's in Cup history and seven happened last year alone, including the Daytona 500, which may have been the greatest last lap in NASCAR history. Makes you wonder why we ended races under yellow for so many years.

31) Toyotas will win … then do it again … and again

"Made in the USA," be damned, the Camry's first victory is coming this season and it'll come via one of the three cars at Joe Gibbs Racing. Their partnership wasn't officially announced until fall, but JGR engine guru Mark Cronquist had his team began secretly testing Toyota power plants way back in the summer. The result of that R&D work was revealed the second their Camrys hit the track for testing. Besides, we're pretty sure Stewart could still win races even if his car was powered by rubber bands and a gerbil wheel.

32) Kasey Kahne's watershed year

After leading the league in wins in '06, the Pretty One was shut out in '07. With Bud on the hood, it's time to stop merely looking like a contender and time to start racing like one. Screaming soccer moms can only get you so far.

33) Regan Smith versus The World

All this 24-year old DEI prodigy needs to do to win Rookie of the Year is beat out three Indy 500 champs and a five-time Champ Car winner. Good luck with that.

34) We don't have to hear about Junior versus Teresa anymore

At least not until Dale stops bitching about his stuff being removed from DEI's museum.

35) DEI now belongs to Mad Max and the "Other Junior"

Martin Truex Junior is visibly relieved to have the rift between his bosses and his friend behind him. And any Dale Earnhardt Inc. fan who thinks the sky is falling needs to spend five minutes with Max Siegel, the team's jazz-playing cool-as-an-igloo VP. If he'd gotten the job six months earlier, Dale Junior would still be at DEI.

36) The Lady in Black is old but still a looker

Every empty seat at California Speedway during Labor Day weekend -- and there are plenty -- is further proof that the rickety old Darlington Raceway is more important than ever.

37) Streaking

The '08 season begins with a bushel of impressive streaks intact. Jeff Gordon has started 509 consecutive races (Ricky Rudd's record is 788), Gordon and Johnson have posted eight consecutive lead-lap finishes (record is 21, Gordon 98-99), Gordon has won at least one race in 13 consecutive seasons, Hendrick Motorsports has won in 22 straight years, a member of the Petty family has started every Daytona 500, Chevy has won the last five manufacturers' championships, Kevin Harvick hasn't posted a DNF in 44 races, and Kenny Wallace is still the active driver with the most starts and zero wins (342, good for 10th all-time).

38) Didn't you used to be Young Guns?

Paging Elliott Sadler, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman … if you're going to capitalize on all that potential we were bragging about five years ago, now is the time. Why?

39) The New Breed

… Because Regan Smith, Aric Almirola, Reed Sorenson, David Ragan and David Reutimann are poised to push you guys off the podium.

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