Chris Buescher – Chris Buescher has developed a knack for finishing well at plate tracks. Last year on this track type among drivers who competed in every race his 10.5 average finish ranked as the best. At Daytona he currently has three straight top tens which is tied for the best among active drivers. Over that three race stretch he has a series best 6.7 average finish. Last year at Daytona he swept the top five and finished 5th in both events. Last summer he had a competitive performance and was up front when the trophy was on the line. When the checkered flag waved he finished 5th and earned the 14th best driver rating. In last years Daytona 500, attrition helped, but he consistently drove in the top 15 over the last quarter of the race en route to his 5th place finish. In summer 2017, Buescher finished 10th, that sounds good but it’s more of a “driver survivor” result because of the mass carnage.
Matt DiBenedetto – Don’t sleep on Matt DiBenedetto at Daytona. He’s been respectable here in lesser equipment, now that he’ll be driving a Joe Gibbs Racing equipped #95 and have quasi teammates in the #11, #18, #19 and #20 he could make some noise in the “Great American Race.” At Daytona in 3 of the last 4 race’s in the top 13, in the one race he finished outside of that range he was competitive but walked away with a misleading result. Last summer you really didn’t see him until the end (ran around the mid to high-teens from about lap 100 until the end), but when the checkered flag waved 7th. In the 2018 Daytona 500 he had a great chance of sneaking in a top ten, but with two laps to go he was caught up in the “Big One” which led to his 27th place finish. Two laps prior to the wreck he was running in 6th. In 2017 he had a great season at Daytona. He finished 13th in July, and 9th in the Daytona 500.
Daniel Suarez – Daytona hasn’t been a friendly venue for Daniel Suarez. Hopefully a change of scenery will do the trick and improve his fortunes. The #41 (theorizing that at the time of his writing) is a more competitive situation at plate tracks so hopefully that will do the trick. At Daytona, Suarez has crashed in all four of his races and has a 29.5 average finish. Last summer, he finished a misleading 35th after crashing on lap 54. One lap prior to his demise he was running in 17th. In the race he started in the rear of the field and where he crashed is essentially the highest he ran. In the 2018 Daytona 500 he wrecked and finished 37th. I will note he did show potential. One lap before wrecking on lap 58 he was running in 5th, so it’s not like he was a slouch. In summer 2017, Suarez had a respectable showing, but finished 17th after being involved in a wreck. His car looked pretty good in that race and he even paced the field for 5 laps. Performance wise I would say he was likely about mid-teens good. In the 2017 Daytona 500 there’s really no fantasy takeaways from his race. On lap 18 all the Joe Gibbs Racing cars came to pit road and at that time he missed his pit stall. That failed maneuver dropped him two laps down early and he never recovered from that. Later in the race he was collected in a wreck that led to his 29th place finish.