TOP TEN DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: INTERMEDIATE TRACKS

  1. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  2. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  3. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  4. MATT KENSETH #20
  5. JOEY LOGANO #22
  6. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  7. KYLE BUSCH #18
  8. DEAR EARNHARDT JR. #88
  9. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  10. RYAN NEWMAN #31

Top 10 drivers on Intermediate tracks, Wednesday look for our Top 10 Teams and Thursday look for our Top 30 driver rankings for Sunday’s QUIK TRIP 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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RACE PREVIEW

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QUIK TRIP 500

ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY

March 5th, 2:30PM ET on FOX TV

1.54 Miles 24 Degrees of Banking

Atlanta is the fastest and probably the #1 favorite track amongst the drivers to drive on. Great sweeping turns and a smooth surface are two of the main reasons. At 1.54 miles, it is a tad bigger than the many other “cookie cutter tracks.” But the date for this race has seen many changes over the years. For the third year it is the second race of the year, or really the first “real race.” Add to that we have added the new stage racing which judging by Daytona has made racing very different and very fun to watch. Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are the two most dominate teams here in the last 10 years. In the 14 races run in ten years, HMS has six wins and JGR each has four wins. No question these two teams dominate this track. Who will get the first non-restrictor plate win of the year? We’ll find out on Sunday.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on intermediate tracks for week two.  Thursday we rank the top 30 drivers for the QUIK TRIP 500.

 

TOP FIVE DRIVERS

Top 5 Drivers to Watch:Daytona 500

 

My #5 driver knows his way around a plate track, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 31 starts, two wins and nine Top 5’s. Three of those top 5’s came in the last four races.  He is #3 rated on restrictor place tracks. He ended the year last year #2 hottest, I look for the heat to continue.

 

My #4 driver to watch is a new comer to our Top 5, #3 Austin Dillion. Austin is my #2 ranked plate driver. Five of his last six Starts have been Top 10’s.  Austin has shown the skills necessary to perform on a plate track and his team Richard Childress Racing has shown that they have been good at coming up with great plate packages.

 

My #3 pick has never won here, #41 Kurt Busch. Kurt is my #5 rated restrictor plate driver and he has 31 starts, no wins and 12 Top 5’s. He is Top 10 hottest over the last six races last year. His performance in the Dual race shows his teams move to Ford has hindered them at all.

 

The #2 driver to watch was the winner Saturday night in the Advanced Auto Parts Clash, #22 Joey Logano. He won the 500 in 2015 and last year finished 6th and had a 4th place finish in the July race. Joey is also #1 hottest over the last six races of the year last year.

 

My #1 pick is the defending champion of this race and came close to winning the Clash Saturday night and won the 2nd Dual race, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny has 22 starts, that win last year and six Top 5 finishes. Denny has finished 6th or better in five of his last six points races and is my #1 ranked plate track driver.

 

 

 

Monday look for our preview of the Quik Trip 500 from Atlanta.

TOP 30 DRIVERS

DAYTONA 500 from DAYTONA

 

  1. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  2. JOEY LOGANO #22
  3. KURT BUSCH #41
  4. AUSTIN DILLION #3
  5. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  6. KYLE BUSCH #18
  7. DALE EARNHARDT JR #88
  8. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  9. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  10. CLINT BOWYER #14
  11. MATT KENSETH #20
  12. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  13. CHASE ELLIOTT #24
  14. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  15. JAMIE MCMURRAY #1
  16. A. J. ALLMENDINGER #47
  17. MICHAEL McDOWELL #95
  18. ARIC ALMIROLA #43
  19. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  20. KYLE LARSON #42
  21. KASEY KAHNE #5
  22. DAVE BLANEY #21
  23. TREVOR BAYNE #6
  24. PAUL MENARD #27
  25. DANIEL SUAREZ #19
  26. DAVID RAGAN #38
  27. DANICA PATRICK #10
  28. LANDON CASSILL #34
  29. COLE WHITT #72
  30. TY DILLION #13

 

Friday we break down the Top 5 drivers to watch in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

TOP TEN TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS PRE SEASON 2017

  1. JOE GIBBS RACING
  2. TEAM PENSKE
  3. STEWART HAAS RACING
  4. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
  5. FURNITURE ROW RACING

 

  1. CHIP GANASSI RACING
  2. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING
  3. JTG RACING
  4. WOOD BROTHERS RACING
  5. ROUSH FENWAY RACING

For the pre season rankings we go off of last year’s results and who looked good all season long and who looked good toward the end of the season. Based on that criteria it comes as kind of a surprise that HMS sits at #4. Jimmie Johnson is the Champion and could repeat again this year but many questions swirl around the other three drivers. Joe Gibbs Racing IS the #1 even with the loss of Carl Edwards, the other three drivers could go far in the Playoffs. Stewart Haas Racing has a reshuffled driver line up and are newly in the Ford camp but two of their drivers made the Chase last year and should make the playoffs this year. Furniture Row now a two driver operation but still in the Top 5. Wood Brothers Racing are the only single car operation in the Top 10.

Thursday look for our Top30 drivers in the Daytona 500.

TOP TEN DRIVERS ON PLATE TRACKS

TOP 10: RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS

  1. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  2. AUSTIN DILLION #3
  3. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  4. JOEY LOGANO #22
  5. KURT BUSCH #41
  6. CLINT BOWYER #14
  7. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  8. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  9. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  10. DALE EARNHARDT Jr. #88

Top drivers 10 on Restrictor Plate tracks, Wednesday look for our Top Ten Teams and Thursday look for our Top 30 driver rankings for Sunday’s DAYTONA 500 from Daytona Int Speedway.

RACE PREVIEW

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DAYTONA 500

DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

Feb 26TH, 2:30 PM EST, FOX TV

2.5 MILES, 31 Degrees of Banking

Big banking and big stakes make this race different than any other. Last year’s winner, Denny Hamlin, received over a million dollars and nearly universal recognition: not a bad payday. On Sunday 40 drivers will hit the steep 31 degree banking of the Daytona International Speedway. After three months off, many days of practice, the Advance Auto Parts Clash race, and the Can-Am Duel races, it’s time to start the 2017 season for real. Forty-two drivers are attempting to make this race and two drivers will be sitting in the stands on race day. With Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the front, you would think the Hendrick Motorsports drivers and HMS related cars are set. Not so fast – Jimmie Johnson’s car spinning in the Advance Auto Parts Clash race says that while they are fast, they are not bulletproof.

Twelve drivers that have won a points’ race here will be in the field. During the Clash we saw a good amount of blocking and push-drafting that has become a big part of restrictor plate racing. Because of rule changes and the use of a restrictor plate we don’t know exactly what we’ll see, but we will get a hint Thursday during the Can-Am Duel races. The other big change in rules brings us the various stages to the race that will result in each stage winner getting points towards placement in the playoffs.

This year’s Daytona 500 will feature two 60-lap stages followed by a final 80-lap stage, with points available in all stages. Under NASCAR’s 2017 race structure, the top 10 drivers in the first two stages will earn points, with the stage winners also earning one playoff point. The race winner gets 40 points, as well as five playoff points which can be carried forward until the season finale at Homestead. We’ll be hoping we don’t see “the big one” – a major wreck that takes out most of the field. This new format could increase the odds of that happening. Six years ago Trevor Bayne burst onto the scene and became instantly known in just his second Sprint Cup start, will we see another unknown become a known? We’ll know on Sunday!

 

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on restrictor plate tracks in advance of the Daytona 500, late Thursday we’ll rank the Top 30 drivers for the race.