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Daytona 500: Power Rankings

Going risky with a few names to start the year.

NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 Qualifying Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Race Information

Race: Daytona 500
Laps: 200
Date: February 14th at 2:30pm
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
2019 Winner: Denny Hamlin (3:42:10)
Network: Fox

Track

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.

AUTO: AUG 16 NASCAR Cup Series - Go Bowling 235 Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Favorites

Denny Hamlin (first selection this year) — I mean, Hamlin’s won the last two straight years here AND he has wins here in three of the last five years.

Alex Bowman (first selection this year) — Bowman’s last seven tournaments here include four top 12 finishes and two outside the top 20. During the playoffs ending up last season he averaged a ninth place finish placing among the top ten in seven of the top playoff races.

High Risk/High Reward

Kaz Grala (first selection this year) — Grala finished seventh here last year. The youngest winner in NASCAR history. It might have be a one time fluke but I’m starting the year off with a gamble.

Michael McDowell (first selection this year) — Oddly enough, McDowell has averaged a top 20 finish at Daytona each of the last four years during which time he finished among the top 10 three times and outside the top 20 only once.

The Dark Horse

Chris Buescher (first selection this year) — As the first race of the year, some drivers get overly excited and cause wrecks down the final few laps. As such, Buescher has landed among the top seven in two of the last three races here.

Fun Fact: Richard Petty won here a record 7 times.