Austin Dillon Daytona 500
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Austin Dillon – Austin Dillon, the defending Daytona 500 champion will be a driver to be reckoned with. He won’t have the strongest car, but odds are that he’ll finish up front. At Daytona since he’s been a full-time driver minus a wreck in the 2017 Daytona 500 he’s only once finished outside the top 14 and has a 10.8 average finish. In 2018, Dillon had a successful season at Daytona and was one of four drivers who swept the top ten. Last summer he had a strong showing. He finished 9th in Stage #1, 8th in Stage #2 and then finished 9th when the checkered flag waved. In last years Daytona 500, Austin Dillon wrecked race leader Aric Almirola on the final lap and then raced his way to victory lane. It should be noted that was his only lap led and his average running position was 18th. Attrition certainly helped him. With 4 laps to go before the “Big One” ensued he was running in 14th. In 2017 he had a tough season at Daytona. In summer 2017 he wrecked in the lap 70 “Big One”, shortly before his problem he was running in 11th. In the 2017 Daytona 500 he was caught up in an accident and finished 19th. In the six Daytona races prior to 2017 he had an 8.5 average finish and had a result in the top 14 every race.

Alex Bowman – Alex Bowman will be a driver to watch at Daytona. Last year in the #88 at plate tracks he was one of the better drivers. In the combined events he had a 10.0 average running position and a misleading 17.3 average finish. In 2018, he was strong in both races at Daytona. Last summer he ran well throughout the event. He finished 10th in Stage #1, 3rd in Stage #2 and then finished 10th when the checkered flag waved. In last years “Great American Race” he showed a lot of speed from the pole but finished 17th after being involved in the “Big One” with two laps to go. Two laps prior to wrecking he was running in 8th. From the completion of Stage #2 to the end he was a driver who consistently drove in the top ten.

Aric Almirola – Aric Almirola is emerging is an elite plate racer who’ll be a popular pick in the Daytona 500. Last season at plate tracks he ranked as one of the best. He nearly won the Daytona 500, and at Talladega in the fall he raced his way to victory lane. In 2018 on this track type minus the summer Daytona race (crashed) he had a 6.3 average finish. At Daytona he’s been pretty successful. Since he won in July 2014, minus the two races he had major problems (summer 2018 and summer 2015) he’s finished in the top 15 every race and has an 11.4 average finish. Last summer at Daytona he crashed and finished an asterisk mark 27th. He was damaged in the lap 54 “Big One” and he never ran well after that. Prior to wrecking he didn’t show much, but it was early in the race and he typically saves his stuff for the end. In last years Daytona 500 he nearly raced his way to victory lane, but was wrecked on the last lap while leading. Over the last segment of the race he consistently ran near 10th, but near the very end he climbed up to the front. In summer 2017 he missed the race due to injury. In the 2017 Daytona 500 he dodged trouble and came home with a 4th place finish. In the two races prior to that he had results of 12th and 15th.

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