Joey Logano – Joey Logano will be one of the drivers to beat at Daytona. He’s an aggressive plate racer who’s proven that he can get the job done. Earlier this year at Talladega, the other plate track on the schedule he led 70 laps and raced his way to victory lane. That marked his 4th overall win on this track type. At Daytona, Logano’s a past winner who’s finished between 4th and 6th in 4 of the last 5 races. In this years Daytona 500 he had a great car and finished 4th. Additionally, it should be noted he earned the 2nd best driver rating and finished 3rd in Stage #2. Him finishing that well is even more impressive when you take into account that with 30 laps to go while he was running in 2nd he was caught speeding on pit road. Last summer at Daytona, Logano appeared to have a strong car, but he was taken out in the lap #70 “Big One” which relegated him to a 35th place finish. At the time of his wreck he was running around 10th. In Stage #1 he finished 5th. Last February he was impressive. He won the Clash, and in the Daytona 500 he was very strong. When the checkered flag waved he finished 6th, earned the 6th best driver rating and led 16 laps. At the end he had a very fast car but nobody would help him. In the two Daytona races prior to that he had results of 4th and 6th.
Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin is an elite restrictor plate racer who should be on your short list of favorites. On a year to year basis he ranks as one of the strongest plate racers. So far this year on this track type he’s scored the 4th most points. At Daytona, Hamlin has performed at a high-level. In 6 of the last 9 races he’s finished in the top six. In this years Daytona 500 he was very competitive. He finished 3rd, earned the 4th best driver rating, and finished 10th in Stage #2. I will note his race wasn’t incident free. During the first round of pit stops while he was leading he was penalized which led to him losing a lap and the draft which created a long afternoon. Last summer, Hamlin had a good car but finished 24th after spinning with 3 laps to go. At the time of his incident he was running around 10th. In the race he led 16 laps and finished 2nd in Stage #2. In the 2017 Daytona 500 he had a good car but finished 17th after getting damage in a wreck that took away his level of competitiveness. In summer 2016 he also finished 17th. Performance wise he was easily top ten good, but at the end of the race he decided to get “racy” (get out of line and try to make moves) and that dropped him in the running order. With 9 laps to go he was running in 6th. In the 2016 Daytona 500, Hamlin had a great car and raced his way from 4th to 1st on the final lap. Additionally, he earned the best driver rating, led 95 laps and had a 4th place average running position. In 2015 at Daytona he had results of 3rd and 4th. In 2014 he finished 2nd and 6th.
Ryan Blaney– Ryan Blaney will be tough to beat at Daytona. He’s a strong and aggressive plate racer who I think is becoming elite on this track type. In the season opening Daytona 500 he had a great car and nearly raced his way to victory lane. When the checkered flag waved he finished 7th, earned the best driver rating, led a race high 118 laps, finished 3rd in Stage #1 and won Stage #2. If there wasn’t late cautions which regrouped the field he was poised to race his way to victory lane. 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.