Race: O’Reilly Auto Parts 253
Date: February 21th at 3:00pm
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
2019 Winner: Chase Elliott (2:37:30)
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.
Brad Keselowski (first selection this year) — Call it unfinished business, call it vengeance for a lap gone wrong last week but I think Keselowski rebounds well.
Denny Hamlin (second selection this year) — I will maintain that Hamlin is the best Daytona driver (at least over the last five years which includes three wins and seven top 10 finishes).
High Risk/High Reward
Kyle Larson (first selection this year) — Larson has finished 10th or better the last three races at Daytona, ironically, at a place were wrecks are a common occurrence, an aggressive driver like Larson is faring well lately.
Corey LaJoie (first selection this year) — As crazy as this sounds, LaJoie has three top 10 finishes here over the last three years. Why is that crazy? Because he has four total top 10 finishes over the last three years.
The Dark Horse
Chris Buescher (second selection this year) — I’m doubling down on Buescher who had issues with a wreck early on and ultimately was a DVP. Prior to this past week, he had three consecutive top 10 finishes at Daytona and top 20 finishes in his last six straight.
Fun Fact: Last year, as the first ever event, the eventual NASCAR Cup Series Champion won. Will that continue as a trend this year?
Favorite: Avg Finish 20th (50th Percent)
High Risk/High Reward: Avg Finish 15th (36th Percent)
Dark Horse: Avg Finish 31st (78th Percent)