Forty-three of the world’s best stock car drivers will compete in the Daytona 500 on Sunday, but five-time consecutive winner Jimmie Johnson is a clear favorite among celebrity racing fans.
told Sports Illustrated
, "I know, I know, it's a bit of a long shot because the guy hasn't figured out the "winning" thing just yet, but I have a nose for these things! In all seriousness, no driver combines talent, poise and almost anal preparation like Jimmie does."
Other Johnson supporters include Shameless actress Emmy Rossum, Rascal Flatts’ Gary Levox, actor Joey Lawrence and singer Gavin DeGraw.
Although actor Patrick Dempsey rooted for Johnson last year, he was more ambivalent this year, "Mark Martin would be great. I think people would be flipping out if he won it. I said Jimmie Johnson last year but I cursed him. I'd like to see him win, but I don't know if he's going to win it this year."
Country singer Brad Paisley went with veteran Jeff Gordon. "I have met Jeff a few times and I think the four-time champ will win this year's Daytona 500. The Hendrick cars are strong, and Jeff is one of the best at Daytona," the entertainer told Sports Illustrated.
Actress Jill Wagner also supported Gordon, but for a different reason: “Why? Because my grandma thinks he's cute and says it's high time he won a race!”
Survivor host Jeff Probst said he would “always support Smoke (Tony Stewart),” but added that he’ll enjoy the day regardless of who wins: "It's anybody's race! With the new pavement it should make for three wide racin' all day and an exciting race for the fans.”
Other notable celebrity picks:
Singer Meat Loaf, Subway spokesman Jared and Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik all expressed support for Carl Edwards. “If he wins he does a back flip, how great is that,” Meat Loaf enthused, referring to Edwards’ signature move.
Mario Lopez was torn between Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya, but predicted Montoya would pull off the win because “he is due!”
Model Holly Madison felt the same way about Dale Earnhardt Jr. “It's been a long time since he's won a Sprint Cup race and I think he's due,” she said.
Lauren Conrad gave her endorsement to Kasey Kahne, whom she met last year and described as “so fun to watch,” while actor Donnie Wahlberg picked Kevin Harvick and actress-model Brooke Hogan singled out Joey Logano.