According to 9to5Mac, Apple Stores will be opening early at 8AM on Friday March 16th to sell the new iPad. Last year, Apple started selling the iPad 2 at 5PM though it has opened stores early for iPhone releases in years past. [9to5Mac]
I ordered the new iPad last Thursday, and it said it would ship the 19th and arrive by the 22nd. Last night it changed from shipping the 19th and arriving the 26th.
I've always lived by the "doesn't hurt to ask" method, so I called to see what they could do. They were able to upgrade my shipping for free to 2-3 days, but he said they couldn't get the date back to the 22nd for some reason, even though they upgraded it as much as they could.
Then he told me to hang on while he talked to his supervisor to see if there was anything else he could do (without me even asking for anything else). When he came back he told me that he wanted to offer me a free smart cover. He got me the black leather smart cover that retails at $69. Such a great company with great customer service.
If anyone else is in the same boat keep in mind it doesn't hurt to ask!