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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 13, 2010

Auto racing: A glance at drivers in Sunday's Daytona 500


Associated Press

No. 00 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing

DRIVER: David Reutimann

BORN: March 2, 1970

HOMETOWN: Zephyrhills, Fla.

CREW CHIEF: Rodney Childers

NOTES: Reutimann won his first career Sprint Cup race at Charlotte and two poles last season, flirting with qualification for the Chase. Finished 16th in points. With team owner Michael Waltrip stepping back from full-time racing, Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. will take over as the team's top guns.

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No. 1 Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

DRIVER: Jamie McMurray

BORN: June 3, 1976

HOMETOWN: Joplin, Mo.

CREW CHIEF: Kevin "Bono" Manion

NOTES: McMurray won at Talladega last year but missed the Chase and finished a disappointing 22nd in series points in his final year at Roush Fenway Racing. Returned to Earnhardt Ganassi in the offseason and has looked strong in Daytona Speedweeks with his new team.

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No. 2 Dodge, Penske Racing

DRIVER: Kurt Busch

BORN: Aug. 4, 1978

HOMETOWN: Las Vegas

CREW CHIEF: Steve Addington

NOTES: The 2004 Cup champion rebounded from a disappointing 2008, made the Chase and finished fourth last season. Won at Atlanta and Texas. After Pat Tryson left to join Martin Truex Jr. at Michael Waltrip Racing, Busch will be paired with Addington who was fired as crew chief for Busch's younger brother, Kyle, at Joe Gibbs Racing last season.

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No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

DRIVER: Mark Martin

BORN: Jan. 9, 1959

HOMETOWN: Batesville, Ark.

CREW CHIEF: Alan Gustafson

NOTES: At 51 years old, Martin is back for another run at the Cup championship that has eluded him during his storied career. Won five races and finished second in series points last year, the fifth runner-up finish of his career. Kicked off Speedweeks by winning Daytona 500 pole.

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No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing

DRIVER: David Ragan

BORN: Dec. 24, 1985

HOMETOWN: Unadilla, Ga.

CREW CHIEF: Donnie Wingo.

NOTES: After an impressive 2008, Ragan took a step backward last season, finishing 27th in series points. The team moved crew chief Jimmy Fennig to a research and development role and paired Ragan with Jamie McMurray's former crew chief, Donnie Wingo.

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No. 7 Toyota, Robby Gordon Motorsports

DRIVER: Robby Gordon

BORN: Jan. 2, 1969

HOMETOWN: Orange, Calif.

CREW CHIEF: Iain Watt

NOTES: Gordon enters his sixth season as an owner/driver. Finished third at Charlotte last season, his first top-five finish since 2007, but finished 34th in series points. Team recently announced alliance with BAM Racing.

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No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports

DRIVER: Kasey Kahne

BORN: April 10, 1980

HOMETOWN: Enumclaw, Wash.

CREW CHIEF: Kenny Francis

NOTES: Kahne won two races for the second year in a row and made the Chase for the first time since 2006. But he struggled from there, finishing 32nd or worse three times in the final 10 races to finish 10th in series points. Team still sorting through fallout from multiple mergers and switch to Fords, but Kahne has driving ability to contend.

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No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing

DRIVER: Denny Hamlin

BORN: Nov. 18, 1980

HOMETOWN: Chesterfield, Va.

CREW CHIEF: Mike Ford

NOTES: Hamlin won four races, made the Chase last season and finished fifth in series points. Tore his left anterior cruciate ligament playing basketball in January but has said he will postpone surgery until after the season. Expected to contend if the injury doesn't slow him down.

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No. 12 Dodge, Penske Racing

DRIVER: Brad Keselowski

BORN: Feb. 12, 1984

HOMETOWN: Rochester Hills, Mich.

CREW CHIEF: Jay Guy

NOTES: Aggressive, up-and-coming driver ran a partial Cup schedule last season, winning at Talladega in just his fifth career start. Running feud with Denny Hamlin spiced up final months of Nationwide series season and could carry over to Cup.

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No. 13 Toyota, Germain Racing

DRIVER: Max Papis

BORN: Oct. 3, 1969

HOMETOWN: Como, Italy

CREW CHIEF: Robert "Bootie" Barker

NOTES: After success in the truck series, Germain ran a partial Cup schedule last season with Papis, including an eighth-place finish at Watkins Glen. After making the Daytona 500 field, Papis a former open-wheel and sports car racer insisted he doesn't want to be known as a road course specialist any more. Instead, he wants to be called, "Mad Max, the NASCAR racer."

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No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing

DRIVER: Tony Stewart

BORN: May 20, 1971

HOMETOWN: Columbus, Ind.

CREW CHIEF: Darian Grubb

NOTES: The two-time series champion flirted last season with becoming the first driver/owner to win the Cup title since Alan Kulwicki in 1992. Still looking for his first Daytona 500 victory in his 12th try.

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No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing

DRIVER: Greg Biffle

BORN: Dec. 23, 1969

HOMETOWN: Vancouver, Wash.

CREW CHIEF: Greg Erwin

NOTES: Biffle was winless last season but still made the Chase, finishing seventh in the final standings. Won the 2003 July race at Daytona, but has never finished higher than 10th in the Daytona 500.

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No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing

DRIVER: Matt Kenseth

BORN: March 10, 1972

HOMETOWN: Cambridge, Wis.

CREW CHIEF: Drew Blickensderfer

NOTES: Kenseth opened the season with his first Daytona 500 victory, followed by a win at California the next week. Season began to slide in Week 3, and he missed the Chase for the first time since its 2004 inception.

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No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing

DRIVER: Kyle Busch

BORN: May 2, 1985

HOMETOWN: Las Vegas

CREW CHIEF: Dave Rogers

NOTES: Busch was hit-or-miss last season, winning four races but missing the Chase. His crew chief was fired before the season ended, so Busch goes into this year juggling both a change atop the pit box and his new role as owner of his own Truck Series team.

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No. 19 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports

DRIVER: Elliott Sadler

BORN: April 30, 1975

HOMETOWN: Emporia, Va.

CREW CHIEF: Wally Rogers

NOTES: Sadler nearly won the Daytona 500 he was out front briefly before the race ended early because of rain but it was just one of five top-10 finishes all season. He wound up 26th in the final standings.

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No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing

DRIVER: Joey Logano

BORN: May 24, 1990

HOMETOWN: Middletown, Conn.

CREW CHIEF: Greg Zipadelli

NOTES: Logano made huge strides during last year's rookie season, rebounding from a slow start to win his first career Cup race at New Hampshire in June. He finished 20th in the points, and should improve upon that this year.

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No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing

DRIVER: Bill Elliott

BORN: Oct. 8, 1955

HOMETOWN: Dawsonville, Ga.

CREW CHIEF: David Hyder

NOTES: The two-time Daytona 500 winner is making his 28th start in the race, and has a good motor. He's scaled back considerably over the past several years, and ran just 12 races last season.

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No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

DRIVER: Jeff Gordon

BORN: Aug. 4, 1971

HOMETOWN: Pittsboro, Ind.

CREW CHIEF: Steve Letarte

NOTES: The four-time series champion begins yet another quest for the fifth Cup title that has eluded him since 2002. He's a three-time Daytona 500 winner, but will be racing in a backup car Sunday.

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No. 26 Ford, Latitude 43 Motorsports

DRIVER: Boris Said

BORN: Sept. 18, 1962

HOMETOWN: New York

CREW CHIEF: Frankie Stoddard

NOTES: A new team that is getting cars and engines from Roush Fenway Racing, Said has only a five-race schedule lined up. It will be his third Daytona 500 start, and his best finish was 14th in 2007.

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No. 29 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing

DRIVER: Kevin Harvick

BORN: Dec. 8, 1975

HOMETOWN: Bakersfield, Calif.

CREW CHIEF: Gil Martin

NOTES: Harvick has not won a points race since his 2007 Daytona 500 victory, but has won the past two exhibition Budweiser Shootouts that open Speedweeks. Finished second to Jimmie Johnson in Thursday's first qualifying race.

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No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing

DRIVER: Jeff Burton

BORN: June 29, 1967

HOMETOWN: South Boston, Va.

CREW CHIEF: Todd Berrier

NOTES: Burton had to go to a backup car for the Daytona 500 after crashing in his qualifying race. Went winless last season as all of RCR fell off the pace, but is a key part of the rebuilding effort.

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No. 33 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing

DRIVER: Clint Bowyer

BORN: May 30, 1979

HOMETOWN: Emporia, Kan.

CREW CHIEF: Shane Wilson

NOTES: Bowyer failed to win a race in 2009 for the second time in four seasons, missed the Chase for the first time in three years and finished 15th in points. Will start in a backup car after hitting the wall in practice Wednesday.

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No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports with Yates Racing

DRIVER: John Andretti

BORN: March 12, 1963

HOMETOWN: Indianapolis

CREW CHIEF: Steve Lane.

NOTES: Andretti finished 35th in owner points last season and secured a starting spot in the Daytona 500 and the next four races in 2010. He's looking for his first top-10 finish since 2003.

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No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing

DRIVER: Mike Bliss

BORN: April 5, 1965

HOMETOWN: Milwaukie, Ore.

CREW CHIEF: Kevin Buskirk

NOTES: Bliss joined fledgling Tommy Baldwin Racing with hopes of running a full schedule in 2010. He finished fifth in points in the Nationwide Series last year. His 13 Cup starts in 2009 were mostly start-and-park endeavors for owner James Finch.

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No. 37 Ford, Front Row Motorsports with Yates Racing

DRIVER: Travis Kvapil

BORN: March 1, 1976

HOMETOWN: Janesville, Wis.

CREW CHIEF: Peter Sospenzo

NOTES: The former truck series champion has been reunited with owner Robert Yates. Together, they finished 23rd in points in 2008.

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No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports with Yates Racing

DRIVER: Robert Richardson

BORN: April 4, 1982

HOMETOWN: McKinney, Texas

CREW CHIEF: Randy Seals

NOTES: Richardson finished a surprising 18th at Talladega in his Sprint Cup debut last season. Is racing full time in the Nationwide Series, but will make several starts in the Cup series.

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No. 39 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing

DRIVER: Ryan Newman

BORN: Dec. 8, 1977

HOMETOWN: South Bend, Ind.

CREW CHIEF: Tony Gibson

NOTES: Newman made the Chase and finished ninth in points in his first season with new Stewart-Haas team. His lone victory since 2005 came at the 2008 Daytona 500.

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No. 42 Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

DRIVER: Juan Pablo Montoya

BORN: Sept. 20, 1975

HOMETOWN: Bogota, Colombia

CREW CHIEF: Brian Pattie

NOTES: Montoya had a breakout year in his third season in NASCAR. He made the Chase and finished eighth in points. Still looking for his first victory on an oval track.

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No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports

DRIVER: AJ Allmendinger

BORN: Dec. 16, 1981

HOMETOWN: Los Gatos, Calif.

CREW CHIEF: Mike Shiplett

NOTES: Allmendinger was third in last year's Daytona 500, a strong showing for team owner Richard Petty, but didn't have another top-five finish and ended up 24th in points.

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No. 47 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing

DRIVER: Marcos Ambrose

BORN: Sept. 1, 1976

HOMETOWN: Launceston, Australia

CREW CHIEF: Frank Kerr

NOTES: The laid-back Australian finished 18th in his first full season in the Cup series. Had seven top-10 finishes in 2009, including strong runs at two road courses, a superspeedway and a short track.

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No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

DRIVER: Jimmie Johnson

BORN: Sept. 17, 1975

HOMETOWN: El Cajon, Calif.

CREW CHIEF: Chad Knaus

NOTES: How about a five-peat? Johnson made history in 2009 by becoming the first driver to win four consecutive championships. Now, he's facing impending fatherhood and more attention than ever. He also is the preseason pick to win the title.

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No. 51 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing

DRIVER: Michael Waltrip

BORN: April 30, 1963

HOMETOWN: Owensboro, Ky.

CREW CHIEF: Bobby Kennedy

NOTES: Waltrip eked out a starting spot in what could be his last Daytona 500, the race that has provided him with so many highs and lows during his 26-year career. The two-time Daytona 500 winner, though, is looking for better results after spinning four times during Speedweeks.

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No. 55 Toyota, Prism Motorsports

DRIVER: Michael McDowell.

BORN: Dec. 21, 1984

HOMETOWN: Glendale, Ariz.

CREW CHIEF: Zachary McGowan

NOTES: Still searching for enough sponsorship money to race the full season. Also looking to do more than be known for a horrific crash at Texas in 2008. He hit the wall and barrel-rolled his car down the track. McDowell wasn't injured, but the clip became a YouTube sensation.

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No. 56 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing

DRIVER: Martin Truex Jr.

BORN: June 29, 1980

HOMETOWN: Mayetta, N.J.

CREW CHIEF: Pat Tryson

NOTES: Truex Jr. moved from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to Michael Waltrip Racing, hoping for a fresh start after winning just once in four full seasons. Had just one top-five finish last season.

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No. 71 Chevrolet, TRG Motorsports

DRIVER: Bobby Labonte

BORN: May 8, 1964

HOMETOWN: Corpus Christi, Texas

CREW CHIEF: Doug Randolph

NOTES: Labonte joined TRG late last season, and team owner Kevin Buckler has committed to running the entire season even though they don't have full sponsorship. The 2000 Cup series champion enters another season looking for his first victory since 2003.

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No. 77 Dodge, Penske Racing

DRIVER: Sam Hornish Jr.

BORN: July 2, 1979

HOMETOWN: Defiance, Ohio

CREW CHIEF: Travis Geisler

NOTES: The former Indy 500 winner and three-time IndyCar Series champion showed improvement in his second Cup season, posting two top-five finishes, but still finished 28th in points thanks to eight DNFs. Has struggled in Speedweeks, starting with admitting he owed four-time champ Jimmie Johnson an apology for wrecking him late in last year's Chase.

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No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing

DRIVER: Regan Smith

BORN: Sept. 23, 1983

HOMETOWN: Cato, N.Y.

CREW CHIEF: Ryan Coniam

NOTES: Smith is a decent place racer who nearly won the 2008 Talladega fall race, but his pass of winner Tony Stewart was ruled illegal by NASCAR because he drove below the yellow, out-of-bounds line. Also finished a season-best 12th at Daytona last year.

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No. 82 Toyota, Red Bull Racing

DRIVER: Scott Speed

BORN: Jan. 24, 1983

HOMETOWN: Manteca, Calif.

CREW CHIEF: Jimmy Elledge

NOTES: Speed had a rough first season in a high-profile ride, finishing 35th in points. His late pass in one of Thursday's qualifying races helped fellow Toyota driver Michael Waltrip make the Daytona 500.

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No. 83 Toyota, Red Bull Racing

DRIVER: Brian Vickers

BORN: Oct. 24, 1983

HOMETOWN: Thomasville, N.C.

CREW CHIEF: Ryan Pemberton

NOTES: Vickers made more strides in his third season with Red Bull, moving from 19th to 12th in points and qualifying for the Chase. Picked up his second career Cup win on fuel strategy at Michigan in August.

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No. 87 Toyota, NEMCO Motorsports

DRIVER: Joe Nemechek

BORN: Sept. 26, 1963

HOMETOWN: Lakeland, Fla.

CREW CHIEF: Philippe Lopez

NOTES: The veteran driver begins his second season driving for himself. He made 30 races in 2009, but had 27 DNFs because he mostly used the start-and-park philosophy. Earned a Daytona 500 starting spot during time trials.

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No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

DRIVER: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

BORN: Oct. 10, 1974

HOMETOWN: Kannapolis, N.C.

CREW CHIEF: Lance McGrewNOTES: NASCAR's most popular driver enters a critical season at Hendrick Motorsports. He was a career-low 25th in points and failed to win a race for the second time in 10 years. His crew chief and cousin, Tony Eury Jr., was fired midway through the season, and team owner Rick Hendrick vowed to get the lagging team turned around.

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No. 98 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports

DRIVER: Paul Menard

BORN: Aug. 21, 1980

HOMETOWN: Eau Claire, Wis.

CREW CHIEF: Richard "Slugger" Labbe

NOTES: Menard joined Richard Petty Motorsports after the team announced a merger with Yates Racing. Spent most of his career driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. Had his highest points finish (26th) in 2008 and his only top-five finish at Talladega's fall race.

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No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing

DRIVER: Carl Edwards

BORN: Aug. 15, 1979

HOMETOWN: Columbia, Mo.

CREW CHIEF: Bob Osborne

NOTES: Edwards was winless in 2009 after winning a series-high nine races in 2008. Made the Chase and finished 11th in points, far off many preseason predictions that had him winning the championship. Is awaiting the birth of his first child.