Ryan Blaney – Ryan Blaney is a strong restrictor plate driver. On this track type he’s one of the more aggressive competitors and isn’t afraid to make big moves. Last year on this track type he scored the 8th most points, in 2016 he scored the 9th most points. At Daytona, Blaney doesn’t have the best track record, but he’s typically run well. Last summer Blaney ran really well, but finished 26th. His race wasn’t incident free and with 8 laps to go he was caught up in “The Big One.” From the race it should be noted he finished 3rd in Stage #1, 10th in Stage #2, earned the 8th best driver rating and had an 11th place average running position. In last year’s Daytona 500 the number you need to know about him is 2. He finished 2nd, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 2 laps. If you play in DraftKings than it should be noted he scored the most points. In summer 2016 he was a top ten contender, but he got some damage in a late wreck which was a setback. When the race reached its conclusion he finished 14th and earned the 14th best driver rating. In the 2016 Daytona 500 he finished 19th, but he ran better than his result. In the race he started 7th, earned the 10th best driver rating and had a 13th place average running position.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has established himself as one of the premiere restrictor plate drivers. He’s always been strong on this track type, but last year he really upped his game and was arguably the best driver by virtue of winning half the races. He got one win at Daytona, and one win at Talladega. One attribute that I like about him at these venues is that he’s really developed a knack for positioning himself at the end and making power moves which propel him to victory lane. Last year on this track type he scored the 7th most points, in 2016 he scored the 6th most points. Last July at Daytona, Stenhouse Jr. had a great car and raced his way to victory lane. In addition to winning he earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 17 laps. It was a very strong showing from him and he made a power move at the end which propelled him to victory lane. Last year in the Daytona 500 Stenhouse Jr. wrecked and finished 31st. He ran well at times and spent a portion of the race in the top ten. In summer 2016 he had a great race, he started 4th and finished 5th. His race also wasn’t incident free, at one point he was blocked in his pit stall which dropped him from 2nd to 22nd.
Jimmie Johnson – Three-time Daytona winner Jimmie Johnson will be a driver to watch. Since 2013 minus the three races he’s wrecked his average finish is an impressive 6th. Essentially as long as he avoids trouble he’s been a lock for a good result. Last summer he had a solid race. He earned the 11th best driver rating, had an 11th place average running position and finished 12th. Additionally it should be noted he finished 3rd in Stage #1 and was in 8th until he pitted during the final Green-White-Checker restart. In last year’s Daytona 500, Jimmie Johnson had a strong car but finished 34th after getting collected in a wreck while running in the top ten. In that race he finished 9th in Stage #1 and was just outside the top ten at the time of his demise. In July 2016 he was top ten good but finished a misleading 35th. In the race he was involved in the “Big One” which ruined his afternoon. One lap prior to wrecking he was running in 8th despite having to overcome an early pit penalty. In the 2016 Daytona 500 he had a solid car but wasn’t a threat to win. In the race he had a 13th place average running position, earned the 14th best driver rating, led 18 laps and finished 16th. In 5 of the 6 Daytona races prior to that he finished in the top five.