Race: Daytona 500
Date: February 16th @ 2:30pm EST
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
2019 Winner: Denny Hamlin (3:44:55)
Daytona International Speedway. This track was built in 1959 by William France Sr. It is more open, allowing drivers to really open up as the inaugural Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of 2020. Lights were introduced in 1998 and the track was most recently repaved in 2010. The track runs 31 degree high banks and is 2.5 miles long. Restrictor plates were used at Daytona and Talladega until the start of 2019. For anyone who does not know, a restrictor plate is a device installed at the intake of an engine limiting its ultimate power, this limits the cars top speed. Restrictor plates are more popular on wide tracks where the likelihood of stacking 3-4 wide opens a track up for more accidents. Instead now they use tapered spacers and larger spoilers, splitters and aero ducts which create added drag for the cars.
Ryan Newman (first selection this year) — I am beginning to realize that as a whole I’m bullish on Ryan Newman to have a good 2020 after a solid 2019 campaign. As such it seems like gravy that he has one of the best track records at Daytona where he has finished in the top 15 each of the last four years and has an average finish of 11th.
Kyle Busch (first selection this year) — Why not open up the season with the reigning champion?? That should be enough evidence of his pedigree but he has two top 10 finishes here in the last four years.
High Risk/High Reward
Alex Bowman (first selection this year) — In his second full season, Bowman made the playoffs even advancing to the top 12. The issue came about in his final six races where he had a fantastic 11th, 5th and 9th place finishes at Kansas, Texas and Miami. He also had a 37th, 30th and 23rd place finish which essentially wiped out any positive momentum he had to close out the season. The good news is he is comfortable at Daytona where he finished 13th and 16th the last two years.
Aric Almirola (first selection this year) — He came in 32nd at the opening race last year but rebounded nicely with a 10th place finish later in the year. The two previous years he was a top 20 finisher and was even a top 12 finisher in the opening race to start the year. If you take out the fact that he crashed last year (among the many crashes included the one on lap 191 which involved 21 cars) he has an average finish of 7th to start the year.
The Dark Horse
Michael McDowell (first selection this year) — McDowell surprisingly has one of the best records at Daytona. He has been in the top 20 each of the last four years and finished 9th last year! Last year in his third year, he had two top 5 finishes and he led for 18 laps all season.
Fun Fact: The youngest winner at Daytona, Trevor Bayne (20 years old), retired last year.
Favorite: Avg Finish 13th (34th Percent)
High Risk/High Reward: Avg Finish 12th (32nd Percent)
Dark Horse: Avg Finish 16th (44th Percent)