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2011 Daytona 500: Need Someone To Cheer For? Cheer For Minnesota!

Many NASCAR fans have someone that they have deemed to be "their driver." The guy they'll cheer for to win every week. Many more NASCAR fans have someone that they will cheer against every week, regardless of the circumstances (see also: Gordon, Jeff or Busch, Kurt). Still others cheer for different manufacturers, whether it's Ford, Chevy, or Dodge.

But what if you're a more casual NASCAR fan that doesn't have one particular guy that you want to see win and are just watching for the racing action.

Well, as is the case in most things, you could go with a tried-and-true philosophy. . .when in doubt, cheer for Minnesota.

Three prominent NASCAR drivers are sponsored by major companies that are based in Minnesota. We'll highlight them here in the order that they appear on this year's starting grid.

Sitting on the inside of Row 7 on this year's starting grid is the number 42 car of Juan Pablo Montoya, whose Chevy ride is sponsored by Target (and is the car featured in the picture attached to this string of posts). Montoya has gotten better every year since coming over to NASCAR from open-wheel racing a few years back. This will be his fifth Daytona 500. . .he finished 19th in 2007, 32nd in 2009, 14th in 2009, and climbed to 10th last year.

Just behind him on the inside of Row 8 will be A.J. Allmendinger, who will be in a Ford sponsored by Best Buy with #43 on the side. This will be Allmendinger's third Daytona 500, and he's had a bit of success. He came out of nowhere to finish third in the 2009 edition of the race, but had a disappointing showing last year in finishing in 32nd place.

Lastly, you'll see Greg Biffle on the outside of Row 13 in the number 16 car. Like Allmendiger, he will be driving a Ford, but his car is sponsored by the folks at 3M. This is Biffle's ninth appearance in the Super Bowl of racing, and he's experienced some success as well, including finishing third in last year's race behind Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Will a Minnesota-sponsored car find itself in victory lane tomorrow afternoon? There's only one way to find out, and that's by watching the 2011 Daytona 500, which gets underway at noon Central time tomorrow on Fox.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.