DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – The 60th annual Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is upon us. Sunday’s season opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race will put 40 of the sports’ top drivers against one another in a high speed game of roulette. Picking a winner in a restrictor plate race is as hard as picking the correct lottery numbers on any given week. This year’s, will be ever more difficult.
So, with knowing what we know heading into this weekend’s race, here are the top five favorites for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
How can you go with anyone but him? Yes, he’s going to be coming from the back, but he did so in the Clash and lead the most laps and won the race. Yes, he hasn’t won any Speedweeks races other than that Clash last Sunday, but it’s not like he hasn’t been close before. Keselowski, is among the best restrictor plate racers today and Bovada Las Vegas sees him that way and marks him as their favorite too.
So do the drivers. They said so here.
Vegas and his peers name him their favorite.
So do I.
Keselowski, has visited victory lane 25 times in his Cup career. Seven of those 25 wins have come on plate tracks. He’s won three of the last seven points paying plate races anyways.
I like Keselowski and his No. 2 Ford on Sunday.
Why not pick another Penske driver here? Vegas, has him in the third grouping as far as top favorites. I have him in mine. Logano, has finished second in each of his two Speedweeks races this year. He’s had a very good car and has a Ford engine, that has produced seven straight points paying wins on restrictor plate tracks.
Logano, is also a former Daytona 500 champion and has been very good in plate races lately. Don’t be shocked to see his No. 22 Ford in victory lane this weekend.
While Hamlin hasn’t had the Speedweeks finishes that he’s wanted, he says he has a very good car in race trim. Also, he, like Keselowski, are among the ones that the peers think are the best plate races in the field today. Hamlin, has been very good in the Daytona 500, winning it in 2016 and having four top five finishes overall in his last six ‘500 starts. Furthermore, he has completed a staggering 2,375 laps around the high banked 2.5-mile oval during February’s annual race out of 2,378 tries. He’s also led laps in 16 of his last 17 plate starts in his No. 11 Toyota, meaning he’s going to be up front on Sunday.
The second generation driver has yet to win a Cup race, but that could end as quickly as this weekend. Elliott, has seven runner-up finishes in two years in the series, but he has shown to have more talent, aggression and drive now than we’ve seen out of him before. Really, since the start of last year’s playoffs and even his incident with Denny Hamlin at Martinsville, Elliott has ramped up his aggression even more.
That’s what it takes to win at plate races.
Elliott, has shown the skill that it takes to win at Daytona too. He’s made moves that most can’t make. His peers are taking notice. Also, he has the only Chevrolet car that has the handling it takes to compete.
He’s going to be a factor on Sunday.
Why not have over half of this list be Ford drivers? While I don’t like where Kevin Harvick’s car is at as far as handling goes right now, I have faith in he and Rodney Childers that they will get it to his liking by the end of Sunday’s race. He finished second in his Duel and has been saying since last Sunday that his car has a ton of speed in it, they just need to get more grip in his No. 4 Ford.
Again, he has a Ford and has a chance.
Harvick, is a stellar plate racer and one that I see as a big favorite.