Top Five Drivers to Watch:Daytona 500

Top 5 Drivers to Watch:Daytona 500

 

 

My #5 driver to watch is the current Daytona 500 Champion, #3 Austin Dillion. Austin is my #9 ranked plate driver. Four of his last six starts here 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 #4 driver knows his way around a plate track, #6 Ryan Newman. Ryan has 34 starts, one win and five Top 5’s. His last three races here have all been Top 10’s.  He is #6 rated on restrictor place tracks. He ended the year last year #16 hottest, he is with a new team this year look for that to get better.   

 

My #3 pick is a former winner, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny has 26 starts, a win in the 500 three years ago and seven Top 5 finishes including 3rd place last year. Denny is #8 hottest over the last six points races and is my #4 ranked plate track driver.

 

My #2 pick has very quietly become a very good plate track driver, #10 Aric Almirola. Aric is my #1 ranked plate driver, but those stats were complied when he drove a RPM Ford and last year he moved to Stewart Hass Racing and did not skip a beat, getting a plate win last fall at Talladega. This year he’ll back in a SHR Ford and he should just get better in the new Mustang.  Aric looked good in that car during practice I can’t wait to see him on Thursday in the duel race. He finished 11th here in the 500 last year and I think based on how well he has been doing since being at SHR he do better this year.

 

The #1 driver to watch was the third place driver Sunday in the Advanced Auto Parts Clash and winner of the second Dual race, #22 Joey Logano. He won the 500 in 2015 and last year finished 4th .  Joey is also #2 hottest over the last six races of the year, last year and is my #2 ranked plate driver. It also doesn’t hurt that he comes into this race and this season as the reigning Cup Champion.

 

 

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

Advertisements

TOP 30 DRIVER RANKINGS*

TOP 30 DRIVER RANKINGS*

DAYTONA 500 from DAYTONA

 

  1. JOEY LOGANO #22
  2. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  3. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  4. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  5. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  6. PAUL MENARD #21
  7. DARRELL WALLACE #43
  8. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  9. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  10. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  11. KYLE LARSON #42
  12. RYAN BLANEY #12
  13. CLINT BOWYER #14
  14. KYLE BUSCH #18
  15. KURT BUSCH #1
  16. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  17. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #34
  18. JAMIE MCMURRAY #40
  19. ERIK JONES #20
  20. DAVID RAGAN #38
  21. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  22. BRENDAN GAUGHN #62
  23. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  24. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  25. MATT DIBENEDETTO #95
  26. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  27. TY DILLION #13
  28. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  29. DANIEL SUAREZ #41
  30. LANDON CASSILL #00

 

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

 

*Revised Friday AM

TOP 30 DRIVER RANKINGS

DAYTONA 500 from DAYTONA

 

  1. JOEY LOGANO #22
  2. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  3. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  4. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  5. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  6. PAUL MENARD #21
  7. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  8. KYLE BUSCH #18
  9. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  10. RYAN BLANEY #12
  11. CLINT BOWYER #14
  12. KYLE LARSON #42
  13. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  14. DARRELL WALLACE #43
  15. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #34
  16. KURT BUSCH #1
  17. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  18. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  19. ERIK JONES #20
  20. DAVID RAGAN #38
  21. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  22. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  23. BRENDAN GAUGHN #62
  24. JAMIE MCMURRAY #40
  25. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  26. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  27. TY DILLION #13
  28. MATT DIBENEDETTO #95
  29. DANIEL SUAREZ #41
  30. LANDON CASSILL #00

 

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

TOP TEN TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS PRE SEASON 2019

  1. TEAM PENSKE (Last Year #2)
  2. JOE GIBBS RACING (Last Year #4)
  3. STEWART HAAS RACING (Last Year #1)
  4. CHIP GANASSI RACING (Last Year #7)
  5. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (Last Year #5)

 

  1. WOOD BROTHERS RACING (Last Year #8)
  2. ROUSH FENWAY RACING (Last Year #10)
  3. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (Last Year #6)
  4. GERMAIN RACING (Last Year #11)
  5. JTG RACING (Last Year #9)

 

For the pre season rankings we go off of last year’s results; who looked good all season long and who looked good toward the end of the season. Team Penske sitting at #1 had all three drivers in their lineup in the playoffs last year, all three finished Top 10 in points and all three drivers won races last year. Six of the teams in the Top Ten had drivers changes at the end of 2018. Team Penske is one of the four who keep their lineup intact, another reason they are in the top spot not #2 where they ended the year. Joe Gibbs Racing is #2,  up two places from the end of last year. Yes they lost driver Daniel Suarez but they did gain Martin Truex. Stewart Haas Racing ended the year at #1 but they have a reshuffled driver line up again this year. Kurt Busch is gone, it appears that Daniel Suarez will be in the #41 so they still look strong at #3. At #4 we find Chip Ganassi Racing. They ended the year at #7. Jamie McMurray is out of the #1 car and Kurt Busch is in. The combo of past champion Kurt Busch with probable future champion Kyle Larson moves them up three places. Hendrick Motorsports sit at #5 just where they ended last year. They should show improvement, how much though is unknown. Wood Brothers Racing are the only single car operation in the Top 6. They move up two places mainly because driver Paul Menard, who was new to this team last year, showed marked improvement in his last ten races compared to the first ten races with the team. Roush Fenway Racing finished last year at #10. We have them up three spots at #7 this year mainly due to the fact that the #6 car last year had two drivers sharing duties that led to less than great results. This year we see veteran Ryan Newman who came over from Richard Childress Racing where he finished the year at #17 seven places above the where the #6 finished the year. Look for improvement in the #6 car. Richard Childress Racing ended the year at #6 but we have them ranked at #8 to start the year. That is based mainly on the loss of Ryan Newman. Ryan will be replaced by rookie Daniel Hemric. Daniel is a very promising but he is still a rookie and very hard to accurately access his strengths. Germain Racing ended the year just out of our Top 10 but start the year at #9 partly based on the fact that the relationship between Germain and Richard Childress Racing is getting even closer. Germain starts the year moving their operations to Welcome NC, home of RCR. Lastly we have JTG Racing at #10. They ended their year at #9 but they did lose veteran driver A. J. Allmendinger and gained rookie Ryan Preece. Like Daniel Hemric it is hard to predict how a rookie will do, but also like Daniel, Ryan’s future looks bright.

 

Tomorrow look for out Top 30 Drivers in advance of Sunday’s Daytona 500.

TOP TEN DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS

  1. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  2. JOEY LOGANO #22
  3. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  4. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  5. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  6. KURT BUSCH #1
  7. PAUL MENARD #21
  8. KYLE LARSON #42
  9. AUSTIN DILLION #3
  10. KYLE BUSCH #18

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

RACE PREVIEW

DAYTONA 500

DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

Feb 17th, 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, Austin Dillon, received over a million dollars, a guaranteed trip to the Playoffs 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 Gander RV Duel races, it’s time to start the 2019 season for real. 42 qualified for the race, only 40 drivers are entered for this race. That means two drivers will be sitting in the stands on race day. Good news for race fans looking for wild duel races, tough news for sponsors. With William Byron and Alex Bowman locked into the front row and their other two Hendrick Motorsports team mates qualifying just behind them, you would think that sets up a Hendrick lockout in the 500. Not so fast, yes HMS driver Jimmie Johnson  won the Clash in a Hendrick Chevrolet but it was after controversial contact and in a rain shortened race.

Thirteen drivers that have won a points’ race here will be in the field. During the Clash we saw a good amount of blocking that has become a big part of restrictor plate racing and the new rules package. 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 Gander RV Duel races. We got a very good indication at the end of the Clash race with a block and spin from Paul Menard after contact with winner Jimmie Johnson at what became the end of the race.

This year’s Daytona 500 will feature two 60-lap stages followed by a final 80-lap stage, with points available in all stages. The same as last year. We’ll be hoping we don’t see “the big one” – a major wreck that takes out most of the field. But it seems almost certain we will. The last 80 promise to very intense. Eight 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, Thursday we’ll rank the Top 30 drivers for the race and there is a good chance we’ll revise that on Friday morning.

PRE SEASON TOP 30 DRIVERS

TOP 30 DRIVERS PRESEASON 2019

 

  1. KYLE BUSCH #18
  2. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  3. JOEY LOGANO #22
  4. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  5. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  6. KYLE LARSON #42
  7. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  8. RYAN BLANEY #12
  9. KURT BUSCH #1
  10. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  1. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  2. CLINT BOWYER #14
  3. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  4. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  5. ERIK JONES #20
  6. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  7. PAUL MENARD #21
  8. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  9. DANIEL SUAREZ #41
  10. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  11. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  12. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  13. DAVID RAGAN #34
  14. TY DILLION #13
  15. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #38
  16. MATT DIBENNEDETTO #95
  17. DANIEL HEMRIC #8
  18. DARRELL WALLACE JR #43
  19. RYAN PREECE #47
  20. LANDON CASSILL #00

This is the final installment of our preseason Top 30 drivers. On Monday, February 11th look for our preview of the Daytona 500.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the last round of the preseason Top 30 driver rankings, look for preview of the Daytona 500 on February 11th.