It’s finally Daytona Day!
Finally, after all the buildup and anticipation, after the week of preliminary races, it’s time for the Daytona 500.
Who to Watch
- Chase Elliott (24): The most obvious car to watch today is Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott. After clinching the pole position for the second straight year, and winning his duel, it’s not hard to make the case that the race is his to lose. He’s got teammates in 2nd and 3rd in Dale Jr and Jamie McMurray, so watch for the Chevrolets to show some teamwork early in the race. If a crash throws the midfield into chaos and the handling issues of earlier this week get resolved in the draft, the Hendrick camp is in great shape.
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (88) Returning to Cup racing with an impressive showing in the Can-Am Duels, NASCAR’s most popular driver is always one to watch. Starting on the front row alongside Elliott should put him in a good position to stay out of trouble, and if he can make his Chevy fast, he’s got a good chance of taking the checkered flag.
- Joey Logano (22): He’s starting back in 15th, but momentum is undoubtedly on Logano’s side. His car is lightning fast in the draft, and after coming off a strong win in the clash, Logano has plenty of reason to be confident in it. The key for Logano, as with the other midfield starters, will be to stay out of trouble and make up some ground during the first stage. If he can make it to the first round of pit stops unscathed, he’s got what it takes to win.
- Denny Hamlin (11): He won it last year, he’s got a ton of confidence, he won his duel, he’s starting 4th… he’s the definition of a solid bet.
- Clint Bowyer (14): Bowyer is in a good mood. After a frustrating couple of seasons, he finally has a fast race car. It’s been a long time since he won a race (Charlotte in 2012), but he could be a real contender starting from 6th today
- Jamie McMurray (1): He won the race in 2010, and he’s expressed confidence in his machine, and he knows how to win at restrictor plate tracks. He’s another one who’s got an absolute shot
- Brad Keselowski (2): A personal favorite of mine, I’d love to see Brad take it home today. He’s one of the top plate racers in the field, he won at Daytona in July of last year, and the Penske boys have been fast all week.
Who Needs a Good Day?
- Danica Patrick (10): If anyone deserves a good race, its Patrick. Sponsorship troubles aside, her time in NASCAR has been frustrating at times. She’s been good this Speedweeks, and a top-10 (maybe even top-5 or better) would mean a LOT for her and the Stewart-Haas camp.
- Jimmie Johnson (48): Suffice it to say that Speedweeks hasn’t been kind to the 7-time champion. After crashes, disappointing finishes, and general frustration, a good race would be a huge and invaluable boost to his season-starting confidence.
Who’s My Pick?
It’s impossible to make confident predictions on a race as huge and complex as the Daytona 500. there are so many people who could win today, so calling a favorite really comes down to a gut feeling. For me, that feeling is with Joey Logano. He has the aura around him of a man who knows he has the right car and the right crew at the right time. He also just recently signed a massive contract extension with Team Penske, which is another positive sign for his mood, his relationship with the team, and the team’s confidence in him. With that being said, this is Daytona. Anything can happen.
Tune in on FOX at 2:00pm EST, and follow @LTMsport on twitter for live updates and commentary throughout the race.