Daytona Beach, Fla – Predicting the outcome of a restrictor plate race is like predicting the lottery. It’s why there’s contests in February offering $1-million to correctly pick the top five finishers, in order, of the Daytona 500. They do this because they know no one will ever hit it. So, to pick favorites for a race at Daytona or Talladega is just plain foolish.
But, with all of that being said, you do get a good idea of “some” favorites when you group some of them together. Like for instance, if you were looking to bank on a driver from a certain team to win Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN) then you would definitely gravitate to someone out of the Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske or Joe Gibbs Racing camps.
Take this stat for what it’s worth, 20 of the last 24 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races run at the Daytona International Speedway, counting the Clash and Duels too, a driver out of those three camps have won. Penske, JGR and HMS have put won all but four races at the high banked 2.5-mile Florida track since 2013.
Furthermore, only three drivers have won those four races. Kevin Harvick won the Clash and his Duel with Richard Childress Racing in 2013, while Aric Almirola won the Coke Zero 400 with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2014. The only other driver to win at DIS since 2013 not part of the HMS, JGR or Penske camps was Kurt Busch’s triumph in this past year’s Daytona 500 for Stewart-Haas Racing.
So, this should make you feel pretty comfortable that a set of 10 drivers among the Penske, JGR or HMS camps will be listed as the favorites. Then, you can take each of these 10 drivers’ stats on plate tracks and shorten it from there.
Since 2005, JGR has won 19 races at DIS, most of anyone. Among those 19 victories are three trips to victory lane in the ‘400. Two of which though were Tony Stewart (2005 and 2006).
In that same time frame, HMS has 17 wins at Daytona, only two though have come in the ‘400 (Jimmie Johnson 2013, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2015). Trends show they’re up next with it being an odd year.
Penske has been strong on plate tracks overall though with winning six of the last 10 points paying restrictor plate races. They saw Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano combine to win three of the four points paying races in 2016, while Logano won two of the four in 2015. Combine that with Keselwoski winning the playoff race at Talladega in 2014, and you get 60-percent of the last 10 points paying victories.
Keselowski, is the defending race winner here and Logano needs a win in a bad way. They’re going to be the ones to watch.