AJ Allmendinger – AJ Allmendinger will be a sleeper pick at Daytona. He currently has three straight Daytona top tens, the only other driver who’s matched this feat is Paul Menard. Over the last four Daytona races his 8.5 average finish ranks as the best among drivers who competed in every race. In this years Daytona 500 he escaped with a 10th place finish. With 4 laps to go before the final “Big One” he was also running in 10th. Last summer, Allmendinger had a solid race. He ran around the back for much of the event but when the checkered flag waved he finished 8th. In last year’s Daytona 500 he dodged the carnage and had enough to fuel to make it to the finish and as a result he finished 3rd. His average running position was 19th, but that’s to be expected because he typically rides around the back on this track type until the end. In summer 2016 he finished 13th.
Bubba Wallace – Bubba Wallace will be a driver to watch at Daytona. He appears to be a solid restrictor plate driver. Over his three starts on this track type he has an 11th place average finish. In the season opening Daytona 500 he looked very racy and when the checkered flag waved he finished 2nd. Additionally, he earned the 3rd best driver rating and had an 11th place average running position. I will note with 4 laps to go he was running in 12th. Last summer at Daytona when he subbed for Almirola he finished 15th. At Talladega earlier this year he finished 16th. On Sunday I wouldn’t be surprised if he competes for a top ten.
Trevor Bayne – Don’t overlook Trevor Bayne at Daytona. He won the 2011 Daytona 500, but the attribute I like about him is how he’s performed in recent Daytona races. In 3 of the last 4 he’s finished in the top 13. In this years Daytona 500 he finished 10th in Stage #1, 8th in Stage #2 and took the checkered flag in 13th. That’s pretty good when you take into account on lap 152 he made an unexpected pit stop. Last summer at Daytona, Trevor Bayne was involved in a wreck like much of the rest of the field and that led to his 23rd place finish. At the time of his wreck on lap 95 he was running in the top ten. In last year’s Daytona 500 he escaped the carnage and came home with a 10th place finish. Realistically he was probably about mid-teens good. In summer 2016 Bayne had a good race. He finished 3rd and earned the 3rd best driver rating.