Daytona 500 picks
February 15, 2019
With Speedweeks marking the soon approachment of the “Great American Race,” also known as the Daytona 500, the Nascar season is starting. It’s the highly anticipated opener of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. To win this race puts you in with the greats: Earnhardts, Pettys, Allisons. Five hundred miles, 200 laps around one of NASCAR’s most famous and challenging tracks, Daytona. Being only one of two of the restrictor plate races on the circuit, Daytona makes drivers draft and stay in tight packs. Pile up crashes may come out of nowhere and insane pit strategies to stay in the lead make the winner almost impossible to choose. These are the drivers to look out for when the green flag drops.
Brad Keselowski – #2 Ford
Being one of the best restrictor plate drivers in the field on Sunday, Keselowski has won seven of these races in the last 10 years. Although he has never won a Daytona 500, his best finish was third in 2014. Keselowski is always near the front throughout the race, and won’t give up a win at Daytona without a battle. His teammate, Joey Logano, won the championship last year, maybe the momentum will push team Penske to their third win at the “Great American Race.”
Kevin Harvick – #4 Ford
Always being one of the favorites at every track, don’t let the new Ford Mustang design make you think Harvick won’t be up to speed by the time the green flag drops. With two Daytona 500 wins since the beginning of his career in 2001, Harvick came off of a eight-win season last year. We should expect the same for this season, starting off with a swift move to close the win at Daytona by the end of the race.
Ryan Blaney – #12 Ford
He lead the most laps with 118 in last year’s Daytona 500, almost winning the race. Blaney has also finished in the top ten in two of his four starts at the 500. Being only his fifth start as a young driver, getting a Daytona 500 early may just be a view of what’s to come of his career. In the clash he showed strength, trying out new lines and keeping in the draft with his teammates. Having teammates being Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, two of the best restrictor plate drivers, could rub off onto young Blaney.
Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevy
Although he crashed the whole field during the Daytona Clash and ended up winning because of a rain delay, he showed his veteran strength. He stayed near the leaders for the Clash and during qualifying competed with his teammates as the four fastest cars. He came off a horrible season with last year being his worst statistics ever. Johnson wants to prove that the split of him and his longtime crew chief Chad Knaus hasn’t hurt his performance.
Sleeper: Paul Menard – #21 Ford
Menard kept his lead in the clash all the way up to the end. He kept back highly competitive drivers like Keselowski and Logano. The luck turned sour when Johnson spun him. If this event wouldn’t have happened, maybe we would see a different winner. Don’t look for him to do much in the big pack come Daytona 500 day, but the clash could foreshadow his strength on Sunday.
Tina Hedrick: Joey Logano
Marshall Coffman: Kevin Harvick
Jaimere Beauzieux: Jimmie Johnson
Owen Stewart: Denny Hamlin
Owen Marshall: Brad Keselowski