Leading NASCAR drivers expect the Daytona 500 and the Duel qualifying races to be much calmer affairs than Saturday night's destructive Budweiser Shootout.
The non-championship, random grid event last weekend was disrupted by three massive multi-car crashes, one of which ended up with former champion Jeff Gordon rolling for the first time in his NASCAR career.
Adjustments to the technical package for the restrictor plate races have led to the return of racing in large packs instead of the unpopular tandem drafts of recent years. But Shootout winner Kyle Busch said Saturday night's carnage was more because of the nature of the Shootout rather than the pack racing, and said the Sprint Cup opener will be less destructive - at least until the final laps.
"It will be a little bit calmer. It's all in the drivers' hands, how boring or how exciting we want to make the race," he said. "I think [the Shootout] was pretty exciting, the reason being because it's a non-points race.
"When you get to the Daytona 500, there's going to be some moments there where you're pushing, trying to see what your car is going to do. You have to keep your water temperatures in check, the front and back bumpers on your car, you got to keep the sides on your car, you have to be there at the end.
"When it comes down to the last 50 miles, 25 miles, 10 miles, it's going to get hectic."
Reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart, who was narrowly defeated by Busch in the Shootout, reckoned drivers were pushing the limits in the Shootout to see what would be safely possible in the main event.
"Historically you've always seen this race be a scenario where everybody sees what they can get away with and they use it for a practice session," he said. "You can always push harder in this race than the 500, because we always run this at night and it's a lot cooler. We'll have most likely a lot warmer conditions a week from tomorrow. That will eliminate some of the stuff that guys were really trying to push the envelope on.
"When it comes to Sunday, you have to race 500 miles, you have to make it last until the end. It's not that they're not conscious of the fact you have to make it to lap 75 [of the Shootout], but you have the flexibility of not worrying about points standings and not worrying about the 500 title and losing it if you make a mistake.
"The competition is so tight, you have to try things [in the Shootout]. If you don't, somebody else is and they're going to learn from it whether it's right, wrong or indifferent. You had to be aggressive and you had to see what you can get away with. It's a great opportunity for trial and error.
"It worked out sometimes and it didn't work out a lot of times. The guys that crashed, it didn't work out [for], [but] there's something they took away from it and said, 'That didn't work out so well.'"
Yet Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was caught up in one of the Shootout's crashes, reckons the big race will be "a lot of the same" as the pressure to win will mean hard racing from the outset.
"Maybe being 500 miles guys might use a little better judgment, but I wouldn't count on it," he said. "It is a heavy duty race. It is a pretty big deal to win and there's going to be a lot of guys pretty excited about their prospects of winning it. Still pretty much any car can win. The lottery's still there for the whole field."