Picking drivers at Daytona and Talladega may not be the easiest thing to do but there are a handful of guys who have a knack for finding their way to the front by the end of these events. Daytona is different from most tracks because you don’t have any guys who are always consistent mainly because of “the big one”.
So to this you must often go with wins at the track, top-10’s, and how their car ran in the last race to gauge how they will finish on any given weekend. Before we go any further let’s just be honest picking against Jimmie Johnson is just plain ole’ stupid right now even if he’s only got 1 win in 17 starts. Now I will continue to break down the rest of the field.
As with most tracks the guys with the most wins rank near or at the top of every category. Oddly enough Clint Bowyer and David Ragan rank as the two best active drivers in terms of average finish. Still that’s not enough to make me pick Ragan but Bowyer is a strong pick. In 9 starts the driver of car #33 has finished in the top-10 a total of six times.
Jamie McMurray has won the last two restrictor plate races and has two wins at Daytona which makes him hard to pick against. However aside from McMurray’s two Daytona wins he’s managed simply 1 top-5 and 2 top-10’s in his other 13 starts. His teammate Juan Pablo Montoya has finished in the top-10 in his last two starts at the track as well.
Kurt Busch is going to win a restrictor plate race one day, with 9 top-5’s in 19 starts there may be no one more consistent at this track.
Jeff Gordon is the winnigest driver at Daytona with 6 wins in 35 starts. Tony Stewart has three wins, McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr each ahve two. Earnhardt’s last win at Daytona came back in 2004 but placed second in February’s race.
Kevin Harvick looked very strong in the first race at Daytona so he’s another one to watch, for that matter so did his teammate Jeff Burton making RCR perhaps the organization to watch this weekend.
As for Ford Matt Kenseth was last year’s Daytona 500 winner, and Greg Biffle came home third in this years running making them solid bets this weekend. Though while Kenseth has 10 top 10’s in 21 starts, Biffle has just 4 in 15 so if you have to choose between the two it’s Kenseth.
I never have good feelings about the next name considering he’s an after thought at just about every other track these days but Elliott Sadler has finished in the top-10 in 5 of his last 9 starts at Daytona including top-10’s in both races last year.
Denny Hamlin is tough to pick this week because he has just a single top-10 in 9 starts at Daytona and aside from that third place finish last July has managed no better then 17th in any of his other starts.
Mark Martin has started 50 races at Daytona and hasn’t won any of them. He’s finished in the top-5 just 9 times and in the top-10 a dismal 17 times. Couple all that with his recent performances and he’s any easy stay clear of driver.
With it being Daytona you can’t be too right or two wrong. One incident can make or break your day and it’s not always the car under a driver that determines his finish, more often then not it’s the cars around him that does.