Kevin Van Dam-- Winningest of all tournament bass anglers with over $3 million in earnings: "I am picking Ryan Newman. I think he will win because he's got a great new team and teammate in Tony Stewart. He has a fast car and he is the kind of driver that does well at the large tracks. He will put it to the floor and not lift through the corners. That is why he wins so many poles, they don't call him Rocket Man for nothing. He is a friend and he loves bass fishing and he can flat out wheel a race car. Ryan and Tony one and two at Daytona.".
Joe Thomas— Cleveland Browns offensive tackle, two-time Pro Bowler, co-host Ohio Outdoors television series: “I’ve got to go with Matt Kenseth, a Wisconsin native who’s driving the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion. He had a down year in 2008, but I think he’s going to be back on top of his game in 2009, starting with the Dayton 500. Ryan Newman, also has to be considered a threat to repeat as the Daytona 500 winner.”
Bill Jordon— President Realtree, Host Realtree Outdoors: “I pick Kevin Harvick in the #29 car, because Realtree is an associate sponsor of the car. Of course, Kevin is a past Daytona 500 Champion, plus he won the Bud Shootout last weekend. And he’s one of my hunting buddies. Other drivers with great cars, too, and have a good shot at winning are: Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex and Tony Stewart.”
Kevin Van Dam— Winningest of all tournament bass anglers with over $3 million in earnings: “I am picking Ryan Newman. I think he will win because he’s got a great new team and teammate in Tony Stewart. He has a fast car and he is the kind of driver that does well at the large tracks. He will put it to the floor and not lift through the corners. That is why he wins so many poles, they don’t call him Rocket Man for nothing. He is a friend and he loves bass fishing and he can flat out wheel a race car. Ryan and Tony one and two at Daytona.”
Wade Bourne— Co-host Ducks Unlimited televison: “I’ll take a stab: Tony Stewart. He’s a driver with attitude, and maybe that mindset will propel him across the finish line ahead of the pack!”
Tommy Skarlis– Professional Minnesota walleye angler: “My choice is Ryan Newman–and not so much for the obvious reasons that he is the defending champion and qualified 3rd for the start of this year’s race. He seems like a pretty cool cat, after all, Newman is an avid angler and he fishes out of a Ranger Boat, which happens to be the same boat I run. Good Luck Ryan in ‘netting’ back to back Daytona 500s!”
Jeff Lageman– 10-year veteran NFL defensive lineman for the Jets and Jaguars, co-host the “Outdoor Show” radio program Jacksonville, Florida: “I like to see Jeff Burton do well. I’ve got to root for the fellow Virginia native. He cracks me up when I hear him talk. He drives the right kind of car (Chevrolet) and has a great sponsor in Caterpillar.”
Cuz Strickland– host “The Obsession Revealed” TV show: “I’m going with the #2 car driven by Kurt Bush. He loves the Daytona track, finished second last year, and ran good last Saturday night. He was real positive about how his Dodge was handling and has the experience to pull it off.”
Lori Deaton— well-known Tampa Bay fishing guide and owner of LadyFish Charters in Apollo Beach, and frequent appearances on ESPN: “If he escapes crashing, I choose Kevin Harvick to win. He won the Shootout and he’s hungry for The 500. But every one of these drivers has a good chance. It’s a long race, and lots can happen.”
Don Dingman— host Hook The Future television show: “Although I think Jimmie Johnson in the 48 car has a good shot and a great team; I’m from Jacksonville, Florida where it’s all about #88 Dale Jr. He’s due for a big Daytona win! Nothing like being on the infield on turn four with a bunch of well-lubricated North Florida gentlemen, screaming to the top of their lungs, ‘Get ’em Junior, get ’em!’
Ish Monroe— California bass tournament angler with a pair of BASS wins, 6 BASSMASTERS Classic appearances, nearly $1 million in tournament winnings, and a new ESPN TV show airing: “People love to hate him, but Jeff Gordon will win. He runs a Chev! How can you bet against a guy who has won three Daytona 500s. That would be like betting against Van Dam or Clunn in the BASSMASTERS Classic. I’m not saying I won’t win the Classic; but my second or 3rd pick would be one of those two tournament anglers to win.”
Greg Tinsley— Executive with Mossy Oak Brand Camo, and co-producer of the Big Game Profiles television show: “I’m going with Denny Hamlin, because I think that’s who my NASCAR-fanatical future son-in-law likes best. Hamlin’s a young guy who apparently drives the Joe Gibbs FedEx car real fast. Otherwise I’d probably be pulling for one of the Richard Childress cars and drivers. I met Childress briefly at this year’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show. He was very gracious and I think he’s keen to huntin’ and fishin’.
Denny Brauer— Over $2 million in tournament bass winnings and 16 BASS even victories: “I like Mark Martin. He is in a good ride and has the experience to make it happen. Hopefully it will be the story line of a good guy still has it going on.”
Teressa Hagerman– The only woman to take an elephant with a bow and arrow: “Tony Stewart will win the Daytona 500 handily. Tony is a friend, and I always support my friends.”
Nick Brichacek— Pro staffer with Hunter’s Specialties and an ardent waterfowler: “My vote for the Daytona 500 is Clint Bowyer, because I’m a huge fan. He’s a Kansas boy and it’s great to see the Midwest talent doing great in the NASCAR circuit. He has done well in the 500 the last few years. He’s been running strong the last two years and was top 5 in the chase two years in a row.”
Who’ll win The Great American Race? Here’s some inside scoop from hunting and fishing celebrities.