Daytona 500 Complete Preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – We’re finally nearing the season opener for the NASCAR Cup Series. The annual Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will contest on Sunday for the 62nd time. With 62 years running, there are plenty of storylines surrounding this year’s race.

For the fifth consecutive year, all 101,000 grandstand seats are sold out. But, combine that with suite ticket sales and infield tickets and you get the biggest attended Daytona 500 in several years according to DIS officials. Among those attending will be President Donald Trump as he becomes the fourth acting President to attend a NASCAR race at Daytona.

Here’s my complete breakdown for Sunday’s race.

“Big 3” The Favorites?

This seems like an annual topic of conversation but the “Big 3” in NASCAR are typically the ones to beat during Daytona Speedweeks. Since 2005, they’ve won 45 times in NASCAR Cup Series action alone. That’s a 73-percent success rate.

That’s huge, especially for a superspeedway track. Furthermore, they’ve won 26 of the last 29 Daytona Speedweeks races overall.

But, now that the 2020 Speedweeks edition is about to end, can the “Big 3” dominate once again?

In 2018, Team Penske won the Clash (Brad Keselowski) and a Duel (Ryan Blaney). Hendrick Motorsports won a Duel (Chase Elliott) too. It happened in 2017 as well. Penske won the Clash (Joey Logano) while HMS (Chase Elliott) and Joe Gibbs Racing (Denny Hamlin) own the Duels.

Last year, Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports) won the Clash. Joey Logano (Team Penske) won the second Duel too.

This year, JGR (Erik Jones) won the Clash and Joey Logano (Team Penske)/William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports) won the twin 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday night.

The only problem is, they haven’t won the Daytona 500 itself other than last year with Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing)

Can they continue the dominance with another ‘500 triumph?

HMS has had bad cars in the Daytona 500 recently. For some reason, they just haven’t had the grip levels to contend. Their cars are wrecking loose.

They’ve won two of the last seven Daytona 500’s. JGR hasn’t had a very good superspeedway program lately as they have just two Daytona 500 wins since 2013 (Hamlin 2016, 2019). Penske won the Daytona 500 in 2015 with Logano but nothing since either.

They’ve struggled in the big race but have dominated the other preliminary events.

In the Clash, they’ve won 13 of the last 16 years. The only driver not of those camps to win since 2005 is Kevin Harvick. All three of his wins came with Richard Childress Racing.

In the Duels, they’ve won 24 of the last 30 including 13 of the last 124. In that same time.

Overall, they’re the ones to beat. Will it remain that way this Speedweeks?

That’s the big storyline. Can anyone beat them? So far, they remain as the favorites as Logano, Byron and Hamlin seem like the ones to beat.

Can RCR Or SHR Steal Another Win

While talk of the “Big 3” is evident during Speedweeks, don’t overlook the next duo that could challenge Gibbs, Penske or Hendrick for supremacy on Sunday. Since 2013, there’s been 38 Cup Series races run at the Daytona International Speedway. Yes, JGR, Penske and Hendrick have won 31 of them. Yes, that gives them a 82-percent chance of winning Sunday’s Daytona 500. But, out of the eight races that they haven’t won Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing has won five of them.

Last year, Kevin Harvick gave SHR their first Duels win in the last seven years. It was also just their third career Speedweeks victory overall as Tony Stewart won his Duel in 2012 and Kurt Busch winning the Daytona 500 in 2017 too.

SHR only has five total DIS victories anyways with the other two coming by Stewart in the annual Coke Zero Sugar 400.

But, for them to have won twice in the last three years at Daytona when the “Big 3” have been hogging victory lane is noticeable. Plus, they have four cars in their fleet to challenge for a win this weekend.

You also can’t count out RCR. They’ve won three times at DIS since 2013 as well. Two of those three victories though were by Harvick (2013 Clash, 2013, Duel). He’s since gone onto SHR.

But, Austin Dillon’s 2018 Daytona 500 gives them hope. So does the fact that they’re recharged and refreshed for 2020. Team owner Richard Childress expect bigger and better things out of his two-car team this season. What a better start than to see either Dillon or rookie Tyler Reddick win the ‘500.

Other than that, the only other three organizations to have won a race in NASCAR’s premiere series at Daytona since 2013 was Richard Petty Motorsports (Aric Almirola) in the 2014 ‘400, Roush/Fenway Racing (Ricky Stenhouse Jr) in the 2017 ‘400 and Spire Motorsports (Justin Haley) in the rain shortened ‘400 last July.

Unlikely Winner?

Normally, the “Big 3” of Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are the ones to beat in Daytona Speedweeks. Over the past 15 years, they’ve won over 70-percent of the Cup Series races during Speedweeks.

In fact, since 2013, these trio of organizations have won 27 of 30 (90%) combined races. Two of the races they didn’t win though were two of the last three Daytona 500’s.

While these are normally the teams to beat in the Clash as well as the Duels, the last few Daytona 500’s have seen Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) and Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing) win instead.

The top cars don’t always win the Daytona 500. In fact, the top cars lately end up on a tow truck.

Winning at Daytona has been more about survival to the end rather than all out speed. In order to win, you have to have more luck avoiding the crashes than having the best car.

This year, will we see another upset?

All three winners on the new tapered spacer package for superspeedway racing last year notched their first career points paying victories at either Daytona/Talladega too. Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney won the two Dega races and Justin Haley stole the win at Daytona last July.

Will we see another first timer on Sunday? If so, then either Alex Bowman, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick, Ty Dillon, Michael McDowell, Martin Truex Jr., William Byron, Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Ryan Preece, Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, John Hunter Nemcheck, Daniel Suarez, Brendan Gaughan, Corey LaJoie, Quin Houff, BJ McLeod or Darrell Wallace Jr. will be victorious.

Last Lap Pass/Carnage?

Three of the last four Daytona 500’s have seen a last lap pass for the win. Denny Hamlin stormed through the pack and passed his teammate Matt Kenseth for the lead in Turn 4 of the final lap in 2016 and held off a hard charging Martin Truex Jr. for the victory.

In 2017, Kurt Busch passed Kyle Larson in Turn 2 on the final lap.

In 2018, Austin Dillon crashed Aric Almirola on the backstretch going for the win.

Will we see another last lap pass for the win on Sunday? Trends say, yes. So does the recent history of the end of these superspeedway races.

The new package will likely promote a last lap crash as the second place car will have to make a daring move to win. We’ve seen that more times than not.

Turn 3

That’s been the turn that caused so much carnage lately. That 28 car pile up in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in 2018, occurred entering Turn 3. The Lap 66 accident that year? Same turn.

The Lap 60 and 97 crashes in the 2018 Daytona 500?

Turn 3.

The last lap crash with Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon in the 2018 ‘500?

You guessed it, entering Turn 3.

Last year’s Clash? 17 of the 20 cars crashed in Turn 3.

Last year’s ‘500? 21 car pileup in Turn 3 with 10 laps-to-go.

Heck, even the 2017 Daytona 500 saw a five car crash on Lap 105 in Turn 3, a 14 car pileup in Turn 3 and an 11 car crash in the same turn.

The Clash last Sunday saw all the crashes minus the bizarre one of the restart occur in Turn 3.

For some reason, Turn 3 has been the problem turn at Daytona lately. Will it be that way on Sunday again?

Will Chaos Ensue?

The last three years of Cup races at Daytona have been complete mayhem. In the 2017 Daytona 500, 34 of the 40 cars that started were involved in some kind of wreck throughout the afternoon. The 2018 Daytona 500 saw 31 of 40 cars crash. The July race that year had 34 of 40. The Clash last year saw 17 of the 20 cars leave with damage while this year’s Clash run last Sunday saw all 18 starters collect some sort of damage during the all-star event. Last year’s ‘500 saw 36 of 40 cars involved in a crash at some point of the day too.

Will Sunday produce as much carnage?

I think so.

Unfortunately, it could happen early and often again.

In the 2018 race, we saw a nine car pileup at the end of the first stage. Then, on Lap 97, we saw another seven cars taken out. All those crashes involved heavy hitters.

In the 2017 July race, 28 cars were involved in a Lap 55 crash. 11 laps later, four more heavy hitters were taken out.

Last year’s race was tame until towards the end which sparked a 21 car crash in Turn 3 with 10 laps left.

With stage racing and how every point matters, especially with a new aero package for the rest of the season causing uncertainty, expect this year’s race to be treacherous again.

Tandem Drafting The Winning Move?

We saw how well it worked at the end of last Sunday’s Busch Clash. A wrecked race car of Denny Hamlin, who was a lap down by the way, pushed his teammate, Erik Jones, who had another badly damaged race car to the win on the final lap. Two crashed race cars faster than a couple of other clean cars.

Tandem drafting worked.

At one point, tandem drafting was the quick way around Daytona and Talladega. It was dangerous, but you’d see cars separate from big packs and pair up to make runs on everyone. It was two cars working as one. It almost looked borderline ridiculous.

So, NASCAR came in and made changes to the cars that wouldn’t allow for tandem drafts anymore which set up a move back to the traditional packs.

Now, tandem drafting isn’t outlawed in the Cup Series as drivers can pair up if they so choose, but the way that these cars are designed, they can’t tandem for too long or they’ll overheat.

So, you’ll see this move made sporadically throughout the race when teammates are trying to get by cars and then they’ll separate. With this being the quickest way around the track, wouldn’t it be used for a last lap pass for the win?

Well, it certainly could, but think about the damage that it could cause too. To tandem draft, it’s an art. The second car is blind to the front. All he can see if the bumper and spoiler of the car in front of him. If the car in front of him moves, he has to move with it. A slight bobble or mistake and not staying locked on a move would cause the car in front to spin.

So, tandem drafting can cause a big crash if the car leading the charge moves to the high or low lane and the car behind doesn’t move quick enough to stay locked. It can also cause carnage if the group or groups of cars in front move to block. The lead car has to counter the block and if the guy behind doesn’t follow suit, the lead car gets spun. If he does follow suit and the cars in front keep blocking, then they’ll get run over and cause a big crash too.

Tandem drafting and blocking is what causes 95-percent of the crashes at Daytona these days. That’s why we see so many cars wadded up.

I expect Sunday to be like this again.

Leading The Most Laps Doesn’t Equate To Victory

The driver who has led the most laps in the Daytona 500 has only won two of the last six races (Denny Hamlin in 2016 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2014). Twice in that time, a driver has led only the last lap for victory – Austin Dillon in 2018 and Kurt Busch in 2017.

Yes, two of the last three years the winner only led one lap – the last one.

Ryan Blaney’s 118 laps led in 2018 was the most prolific time out front in the race since Davey Allison led 127 laps en route to the 1992 winner’s trophy. Since then, Blaney is the only driver to lead 100 laps or more since Tony Stewart led 107 laps in 2005. Both Blaney and Stewart finished seventh in those races.

In between those 100-lap efforts, the Busch brothers led 80 or more laps and did not win a race. Kyle Busch led 88 laps in 2009 and 86 laps in 2008. His older brother Kurt led 95 laps in 2007.

In fact, since 1993 a driver has led 100 or more laps only six times. Only twice did that result in a Daytona 500 win. Dale Earnhardt led 107 laps en route to his historic 1998 victory and Sterling Marlin led 105 laps en route to his 1995 win.

Ford’s Strength But 2nd Year With Mustang

There’s no doubt about it, Ford has been the manufacturer to beat on superspeedway tracks as of late. Since 2014, they’ve won 14 of 22 points paying Cup races. Last year, they only won 1 of 4, but it was a dominating win in the playoff race at Talladega where they led 125 of 188 laps. In 2018, they were 2-for-4 but the year prior, they won all four trips. The year prior to that, they were 3-for-4.

This year though, is the second year of their new car, the Mustang. Will this body style race and draft as well as the Fusion did? Talladega showed yes, but some drivers last year said that they didn’t have the speed compared to the Chevrolet’s though.

The horsepower is there, but they said that the car didn’t glide through the air with as much speed as in the last five years? Can they be there in the end though?

In the July race last year, several top Ford drivers were taken out in a crash together.

Manufacturer Alliances

Toyota started it in 2016, Ford perfected it there after and Chevrolet brought it to a head in last year’s Daytona 500. What “it” is, is manufacturer alliances on superspeedway’s.

For the 2016 Daytona 500, the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s knew that they didn’t have strength in numbers compared to their car count vs. the Ford’s/Chevy’s, so they teamed up only with each other. It panned out for a 1-2 finish in the Daytona 500 that year.

After that race, Ford took notice and had their powerplant line up together and draft with one another during the four combined annual stops at Daytona and Talladega. Ford, already had good motors for these tracks, but throw in teamwork and you get domination in the form of 13 of the last 19 races won when using the restrictor plates.

They were in everyone’s head. So, for last year’s Daytona 500, the Toyota’s knew that they didn’t have the numbers to contend for the win. Hendrick Motorsports, a Chevrolet team, knew that the other Chevy cars weren’t good enough to hang with them to challenge the Ford’s. So, we saw an unlikely tandem for the ‘500 – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyota’s and their alliance car at Leavine Family Racing and the Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevy’s.

Combined, that’s nine very good race cars that with even the smallest bit of help from any other Chevy team, could work together and break up the Ford party up front.

See, Ford’s knew that if they lined up in tow, go up to the high line and pull each other around the 2.5-mile track, it didn’t matter how many Chevy’s or Toyota’s lineup, no one could stop them.

So, HMS and the Toyota’s teamed up and ran up there with them, then would use the draft to take air off the Ford’s and break them apart.

It worked.

Toyota finished 1-2-3 in the ‘500, Ford’s grew frustrated with one another and the Chevy teams were pissed that HMS sought out a late hour deal with a rival manufacturer.

In turn, Chevy had a closed door meeting afterwards and made sure that this didn’t happen again. Chevy teams could only work and draft with other Chevy teams. No more helping the competition.

Ford teams would still try and do the same. The Toyota’s? Well they were hung out to dry.

Chevy was the biggest beneficiary of this. HMS would finish 1-2 in the first race with the tapered spacer last April in Talladega including Chevy going 1-2-3 overall and taking five of the top six finishing positions.

In the July race at Daytona, Chevy went 1-2-3-4 this time.

But, in the second stop to Talladega last October, the Ford’s found a way to get back to prominence. They’d lead 125 of the 188 laps run and take a 1-2 finish and four of the top five. Chevy, took spots 6-8-10.

How will Sunday play out? Is manufacturer teamwork still as strong? Is it stronger?

The Toyota’s had just one car in the top 18 at Talladega in April and three in the top 10 in October. In the July Daytona race, they had just two cars in the top 21 overall too. They will need some help this weekend.

Will Hendrick Get It Right This Year

Hendrick Motorsports’ five year Daytona 500 pole winning streak has now come to an end.  They still qualified 2-3-4-8 though. Unfortunately, they don’t have any wins to show for this strong qualifying success. The once kings of superspeedway racing have found troubles with the handling of their cars in the races themselves.

When it’s running by themselves, HMS cars are fast. In the draft, they’ve been out of control. Last year, they said that they have fixed those past problems. They kind of did.

Jimmie Johnson finished ninth in last year’s Daytona 500 and third in July. Chase Elliott won the spring Talladega race.

But, HMS hasn’t won a points paying race at Daytona since 2015 (Coke Zero Sugar 400). They haven’t won the Daytona 500 since 2014.

From 2013 through 2015, they won four of the six points paying races. Since? 0 in the last four years combined.

They look better heading into the ‘500 now than they have in years.

Jimmie Johnson’s Last ‘500

Last November, Jimmie Johnson announced that the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season would be his last full time effort in the No. 48 Chevrolet. Unfortunately, it’s probably time that he does hang up his helmet after 18 great years of competing at NASCAR’s highest level.

Johnson’s seven championships are tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most all-time. His 83 wins rank him in a tie with Cale Yarborough for sixth all-time. His next victory would tie him for fourth with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison. Two more wins would have him only see Richard Petty (200), David Pearson (105) and Jeff Gordon (93) as the only drivers ahead of him on the all-time wins list in NASCAR Cup Series history.

That’s why 2020 being Johnson’s last ride would like to see him win at least two races and a record breaking eighth title. That’s a storybook ending right?

Well, wins have been few and far between for Johnson lately. Since his last championship in 2016, he’s only won three times over the last three combined seasons. All three of those wins though came in 2017 as he’s been shut out of the win category in each of the last two years. He heads to Daytona riding a 95 race winless streak, worst of his career.

He’s only had a combined nine top five finishes in those three years and 33 combined top 10’s. By comparison, from his rookie season in 2002 through the 2015 season, Johnson had at least 20 top 10’s in literally every single season.

He only led 217 laps in 2017, 40 in 2018 and just 131 last year. From 2007 through 2014, seven-time led at least 1,100 laps in eight consecutive years.

Now, he heads to Daytona trying to reverse that downward trend for one last time. After all those great years, followed by three lean years, what better way to start 2020, his last season in Cup, off with a Daytona 500 triumph.

This will all likely be his 19th and final start in the Great American Race. He’s won it twice (2006, 2013). Both happened to be championship winning years for the California native.

While he’s struggled overall lately, he’s quietly been pretty stout in the ‘500 lately. Johnson, finished ninth in last year’s race for his fourth top 10 finish in his last seven Daytona 500 starts. Three of those four saw him finish in the top five at that.

In last year’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona, Johnson finished third. If you go back to the fall race at Talladega in 2018, Johnson has five top 10 finishes in his last seven superspeedway starts including a win in last year’s Clash.

This is a big storyline to watch this weekend.

Bad Luck For Front Row Starters

This doesn’t bode well for the point above, but the last time a pole winner won the Daytona 500, William Byron was two years old (2000). Furthermore, the last time the pole winner even finished in the top five was 2002 (Bill Elliott). In fact, 15 of the last 18 races have seen the pole winner finish outside of the top 10. That’s not good news for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

What about the outside front row starting spot. The last win came in 1993 (Dale Jarrett). They have only finished in the top 10 just four times since 2006. Not good news either for Alex Bowman.

Clash Winner Doesn’t Mean Daytona 500 Win

This doesn’t bode well for the last few points either. Erik Jones (+2000) won the Clash but only six times has the Clash winner won the Daytona 500. The last time was Denny Hamlin in 2016. Before him, it hasn’t happened since 1998.

Repeat Winner Not Likely

Denny Hamlin (+1000) is hoping to become just the fourth driver to win back-to-back Daytona 500’s. Richard Petty did it in 1973 and 1974. Cale Yarborough did it in 1983 and 1984. Sterling Marlin was the last to do so in 1994 and again in 1995. The odds don’t look favorable for Hamlin to repeat on Sunday despite scoring five top four finishes in his last six Daytona 500 starts.

Busch Has Great Stats Recently At Daytona But Recent Champions Haven’t Had Much Daytona 500 Success

Kyle Busch (+1100) won his second career Cup Series championship last November. That mixed with him having two top three finishes including a runner-up in last year’s Daytona 500 itself, bodes well for his confidence level on Sunday. But, what if I told you that only five times has the reigning series champion won the Daytona 500 the next year and the last time that it actually happened was in the year 2000. Its only happened twice since 1978 overall.

That doesn’t sound very favorable for a win this weekend after all for Busch.

Busch, is 0-for-14 in the Great American Race. While he finished runner-up last year and third in 2016, the rest of his results haven’t been all that great. 10 of his 14 Daytona 500 starts have seen him finish 14th or worse. Seven of those 10 were 23rd or worse including five of his last seven seeing him finish 19th or worse.

Busch, badly wanted to win multiple championships. He’s finally done so. Now, he so badly wants to etch his name in NASCAR lore with a Daytona 500 triumph too.

If he doesn’t ever get a chance to win this race, he will join a list of some very accomplished racers to have never done so either. Terry Labonte was 0-for-32, Mark Martin was 0-for-29, Rusty Wallace was 0-for-23, Tony Stewart 0-for-17, Martin Truex Jr. 0-for-15, Carl Edwards 0-for-12, Ned Jarrett 0-for-7 and so on.

But, Busch doesn’t want to end his career on this list and wants to put his No. 18 Toyota into victory lane for the second straight race (Homestead 2019) and become the first defending champion to win the Daytona 500 the next year in 20 years.

Keselowski Hasn’t Been Very Strong At Daytona Lately, Only Boasts 1 Career Speedweeks Win

One of the best superspeedway drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series today is Brad Keselowski. No one will argue with you when you tell them that. His six wins on them rank him first among all active drivers right now. If things go his way and he avoids the “big ones” and can be there in the end, he most certainly would be pushing double digits in the win column.

“That’s been the hardest part for me,” Keselowski said in 2019. “I feel we’ve been good enough to win it multiple times.  We get caught up in somebody else’s wreck or problem.  I think you see that a lot.

“Besides the luck factor, first things first, you got to be running at the end of that race.  For whatever reason, I think maybe because it’s the first race of the year, maybe because it’s one of the biggest races of the year, I’m not entirely sure, but the Daytona 500 has traditionally been a race of very high attrition.  Getting to the end has been very difficult for us.

“It’s probably kept us from winning it at least once or twice because, like I said earlier, I think we’ve had the car to do it.  I think that’s a big part of why it’s so hard to win, the attrition factor, just surviving it to begin with.

“Again, of course, it is a difficult racetrack.  This time of year, Florida is a lot hotter than most parts of North America, but this time of year it seems to be one of those racetracks that you practice and you qualify, then the race day, for whatever reason, the track temp goes way up, the cars slide around a lot more, chaos ensues.  Trying to survive to the end for me is the biggest part.

“The races we have survived till the end, we have ran really well and been in a position to win.  Hopefully that’s the case for us this year.  I feel confident if I can be there at the end, we can win the race.”

Despite saying that, they’ve struggled during Daytona Speedweeks though.

Take Keselowski for example, he’s had 29 career Cup Series starts during Speedweeks. In those races, he’s won just once. That came in 2018 in the Clash. In those 29 overall races, he only has six top five finishes in them, three of which coming in the Clash alone. In 10 of his 29 races, he’s finished 20th or worse.

He just doesn’t have the results or luck at that.

“It’s something I thought a lot about,” said Keselowski. “There’s a couple thoughts on my mind.  Before last season I had never really won a major NASCAR race.  I won the championship, done a lot of those things, which is certainly great.  I hadn’t won a major.  Last year (2018) after winning Darlington and Indianapolis, gosh, the thrill from that.  I’m still kind of on a high from that.  That was almost six months ago.

“But Daytona is, of course, the 500, one major I don’t have.  I feel like it’s a race we’ve been competitive at.  We had opportunities to win it.  For a number of reasons, it hasn’t come together, which is sometimes unsettling.  People ask me all the time, What race is the one that got away?  It’s the 500, has been so far.  I want to change that.

“We have a great opportunity to do that this year.  We have a rules package we’re pretty familiar with.  The Ford Mustang has now come out.  We had our pre-season testing in Las Vegas.  It looks like it’s going to be a killer car.  We’re really excited about that.

“Opportunities are in front of us.  I feel like if I could win the Daytona 500, it would be the biggest win of my career.  I’m ready to do it.  I still have a good understanding of what it’s going to take to do it.  It’s just a matter of kind of putting the whole race together from my perspective, from the team’s perspective as well, then not having any bad luck.”

In the Duels, eight of his 11 starts have seen him finish outside of the top 10. In the Daytona 500, he has eight finishes outside of the top 10 in 10 tries.

Other than the Clash, he’s struggled during Speedweeks. Eight of his last 12 superspeedway starts overall have seen him finish 19th or worse.

He hit a pole in practice on Saturday and crashed in the Clash last Sunday.

Keselowski vs. Logano Drama?

Brad Keselowski left the Daytona International Speedway on Sunday fuming mad at his teammate Joey Logano. Keselowski, was collected in a late race melee in Sunday’s Busch Clash after his Team Penske teammate Logano made a series of aggressive blocks on Kyle Busch in their contest for the lead.

Keselowski, wound pound the side of the ambulance in disgust and later said that is car was destroyed by his teammate and blasted Logano for “just dumb, dumb racing” and for making moves he should have known never would have worked.

When asked if he will talk to Logano, Keselowski said that he’s heading to Disney World in nearby Orlando for a few days and will deal with it later. Logano, was told of Keselowski’s comments and said that he’s heading to Disney World too and hoped that they’d catch up.

On Wednesday, both sides said that they have spoke during this past week.

“I think I’ve been consistent and verbal about blocking on the race track, so I don’t really have anything that I feel differently about with respect to that,” Keselowski said. “But as far as the comments specific to Joey, I’ll keep those between him and I.”

Logano said the two Team Penske teammates took in Walt Disney World earlier this week, but didn’t see each other there. In discussing the incident with Keselowski, he said it was important to share his side of the story and drill down to the cause of his ire.

“That stuff happens, but hey, we’ve been friends for a long time. We’ve been able to figure things out before,” Logano said. “He said afterwards, ‘I’m not really that worried about it. It’s going to be OK. We’re going to figure it out.’ Everything always blows by. Everything gets better all the time.”

Harvick Looking For 1st Daytona 500 Win With SHR, 50th Of His Cup Career

Kevin Harvick is no stranger to success in the NASCAR Cup Series. He’s won a championship (2014), has finished third in the final points standings for the last three years and in the top four in six of the last seven. He’s won the Brickyard and Coke 600 twice each, the Southern 500, Bristol Night Race and All-Star race each once. He’s also won the Daytona 500 once too.

But, for Harvick, he’s hoping to get another Daytona 500 crown on Sunday.

See, Harvick has won 49 times over the course of his Cup career. He’s one win shy of 50. It would be special to pull into victory lane for the 50th time following Sunday’s Daytona 500. You can’t find a better place to pull that feat off.

But, not only that, Stewart wants to get there with Stewart-Haas Racing. His lone Daytona 500 triumph came back in 2007 with Richard Childress Racing. You can argue that his best years have been with SHR instead of RCR, so why not reward SHR with a Daytona 500 victory.

26 of those 49 wins after all have come with SHR. Just none at Daytona. He did win one of last year’s Duels, but that’s his only victory at Daytona since joined SHR for the 2014 season and beyond.

SHR hasn’t had the most Daytona success anyways.Last year’s win in the Duels by Harvick gave SHR their first Duels victory in the last seven years. It was also just their third career Speedweeks victory overall as Tony Stewart won his Duel in 2012 and Kurt Busch winning the Daytona 500 in 2017.

SHR only has five total DIS victories anyways with the other two coming by Stewart in the annual Coke Zero Sugar 400.

But, for them to have won twice in the last three years at Daytona when the “Big 3” have been hogging victory lane is noticeable.

For Harvick, he’s just struggled in superspeedway races lately. He’s crashed out in four of his last five races on them. Five of his last seven Daytona 500 starts have seen him finish outside the top 10 including his last three being — 22nd, 31st and 26th respectively.

Its been 13 years since Harvick last won the ‘500, maybe that streak ends on Sunday.

Favorites Not Very Favorable

Out of the top seven favorites listed, five of them aren’t very favorable.

Brad Keselowski (+1000) is tied for the best odds, but four times in the last five years he’s  finished 27th or worse at Daytona. In fact, since July 2014, the Penske driver has 10 finishes of 17th or worse in his last 12 Daytona tries.

Chase Elliott (+1000) has finished 30th or worse in five of his eight Daytona starts and 14th, 17th and 22nd in his other three. Elliott’s Daytona 500 finishes are – 37th, 14th, 33rd and 17th respectively.

Kevin Harvick (+1100) has finished eight of his last 11 Daytona starts 19th or worse. He’s also crashed out of four of his last five Daytona starts overall. Five of his last seven Daytona 500 starts have seen him finish outside the top 10 including his last three being — 22nd, 31st and 26th respectively.

Kyle Busch (+1100) Prior to last year, he had finished 20th or worse in his last four Daytona starts. Busch, has just three top 10 finishes on the 2.5-mile track since 2014. A reigning series champion like Busch hasn’t won the Daytona 500 the next year since 2000 (Dale Jarrett) and has only happened twice since 1978.

Martin Truex Jr. (+1300) – Has just four top five finishes in 59 career superspeedway starts, only two of them occurred at Daytona. Truex, has six finishes of 18th or worse in his last nine overall Daytona starts.

William Byron (+1800) – He did finish second last July in Daytona, but his other three finishes in Cup competition are 23rd and 21st respectively in the Daytona 500 and 32nd in the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400.

Clint Bowyer (+2000) has just one top five finish at Daytona since 2014.

Kyle Larson (+2000) – Has never scored a top five in 24 career superspeedway starts. Larson, has six finishes of 29th or worse in them. While he was seventh in last year’s ‘500, his other four of his other five finishes were 12th or worse in the big race.

Favorites?

Joey Logano (+1000) – No brainer here. Logano, is so good on superspeedway tracks as he has won four times already on them. The Penske driver has six top four finishes in his last 14 tries. At the Daytona 500, Logano has five straight top six finishes (1st, 6th, 6th, 4th, 4th).

Denny Hamlin (+1000) – History isn’t on his side as no repeat winner has won this race since 1995, but Hamlin has five top four finishes in his last six Daytona 500 tries including two wins.

Ryan Blaney (+1400) – He won the last superspeedway race last Fall in Talladega. Blaney, may have four finishes of 26th or worse in his last five Daytona starts, but he does have three top seven’s in his last seven Daytona starts overall.

Kurt Busch (+1800) – Since July 2014, Busch has five top 10 finishes at Daytona including a win in the 2017 Daytona 500.

Sleepers

Alex Bowman (+1800) – He was quick last year on superspeedways including a runner-up finish in the spring Talladega race. Bowman, has two top 11 finishes in his last three Daytona starts.

Matt DiBenedetto (+2000) – Led the most laps in last year’s race. He’s driving for a Wood Brothers team that is always good at Daytona too. DiBenedetto, has two top eight finishes in his last three Daytona starts, all with underfunded teams.

Jimmie Johnson (+2000) – Johnson has five superspeedway wins to his credit. He also has five top 10 finishes in his last seven starts on them including a Clash win last year, an eighth in his Duel a few days later, a ninth in the Daytona 500 and third in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. With this being Johnson’s likely final Daytona 500 try, it would be a storybook ending for him to win.

Ryan Newman (+3500) – A former Daytona 500 winner (2008) was strong last year too. Newman, has four top eight finishes in his last five Daytona starts.

Chris Buescher (+4000) – He has three top 10 finishes, two of which being fifth place runs, in his last five Daytona starts. Plus, he’s taking over a strong car at RFR that Stenhouse Jr. won the July race in a few years ago.

Austin Dillon (+4000) – Another former Daytona 500 winner (2018) with seven top 10 finishes in his last 12 Daytona tries.

Tyler Reddick (+4000) – He may be a rookie but driving for a good superspeedway team at RCR. Reddick, won the February NXS race at Daytona in 2018 and the Talladega race last Spring.

Ty Dillon (+6600) – The younger brother of Austin has three straight top six finishes in Daytona including a sixth place run in last year’s Daytona 500.

Michael McDowell (+6600) – He was fifth in last year’s Daytona 500 and ninth the year prior. Furthermore, since July 2014, the Arizona native has five top 10 finishes in his last 10 Daytona starts and with teams like Leavine Family Racing and Front Row Motorsports at that.

Ryan Preece (+6600) – This car was previously driven by Chris Buescher and had some great success at Daytona. Preece, finished eighth in last year’s Daytona 500 too.

David Ragan (+8000) – He’s always a superspeedway threat. Ragan, has two career Cup victory and each came on one.

 

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