Race: Daytona 500
Date: February 20th
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
2021 Winner: Michael McDowell (3:27:44)
Broadcast: NBC (Rick Allen, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Steve Letarte)
Course: 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 car’s 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.
1) Joey Logano (1st pick this year) Joey was 2nd here last year, 26th in 2020, and 4th in 2019. Finishing 8th overall in points last year, he tends to start the season on a strong foot and I see more of the same in 2021.
2) Alex Bowman (1st pick this year). Alex has managed to average out to a 14-17 play here amidst a track that has quite a few wrecks. He was part of the accidents last year, but between 2018 – 2020 he started the season’s opener with a 10th place finish, a 24th place finish, and an 11thplace.
High Risk/High Reward
3) AJ Allmendinger (1st pick this year) AJ has been among the top 10 in three of the last five years here. The crashes might help that a bit but I think he’s learned how to navigate the terrain.
4) Michael McDowell (1st pick this year). Few have navigated this as well as he has as of late. McDowell has landed among the top 15 in all but one regular season race since 2019 .
5) Justin Haley (1st pick this year) Justin has surprisingly landed in the top 15 in all but one regular season race here since 2019. While he was ineligible for driver points, he could yield a solid return here as a dark horse.
Favorites: Average finish 14th (35th percentile)
High Risk/Reward: Average finish 16th place (42nd percentile)
Dark Horse: Average finish 18th place (46th percentile)