Steve Kim Blog covering NASCAR
That is, will Danica win the Daytona 500 for Go Daddy?
The answer is anything is possible, but her chances are slim. Based on published odds (with adjustments), her chance of winning is 1.1% -- half that of 2.3% average for the field. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. top the expected win probability with 6.6% each, so odd makers expect these three drivers each to have six times the chances that Danica has to win the race.
Low expectations for Danica seem reasonable given that she hasn't raced the Daytona 500 before. But crazy things have happened at the Daytona 500 in the past. The restrictor plates make the field evenly matched -- it's mostly about the driver's skill and luck with a special emphasis on luck. Just look at last year's results. Trevor Bayne won the race starting at the 32nd spot with prevailing odds of 50:1, which is only a bit better than Danica's current odds. (Move over Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin!)
This year should be even more unpredictable. The mechanical changes from carburetor to electronic fuel injection and tandem rule implementation are sure to cause additional volatility. The return of pack racing style -- driving 200 plus miles bumper to bumper -- should cause many cars to crash, flip and spin.
Based on all factors, I think her chance of finishing the race is decent -- not much different than the average -- so call it 75 percent. Her chance of coming in top 10, which would be a win in itself for her and Go Daddy, I peg at about 5 to 10 percent. Her chance of winning, I would say should be higher than 1.1% -- should be closer to the field average of 2.3%.
(Please visit www.nascarone.com for a list of winning chances for the upcoming Daytona 500.)