Congratulations to Tony Stewart who picked up his first win in over two years at Sonoma this weekend. With the win, all Tony needs to do to make the Chase is finish in the top thirty in points and he is in. Right now he is only nine points out of that position so, he should make it easily if he stays healthy over the next ten races.
There are now eleven different drivers with wins this season which only leaves five more spots open for the Chase. I think we will get at least two more first time winners this year in that stretch which will leave three spots in the Chase that will be filled based on the point standings. Then again, we might get more than two new winners also so, it is imperative that drivers who want to make the Chase do their best to win a race.
COKE ZERO 400
This week the series heads from a road course back to a restrictor plate track. Daytona International Speedway is a two-and-a-half-mile high banked, high speed tri-oval. This is one of the tracks on the circuit where all forty drivers in the starting grid have a chance to win the race. We have seen small teams without the resources of the larger teams come away with wins at this track before and anything can happen here.
Denny Hamlin: Denny came oh so close once again last weekend at Sonoma and he won the Daytona 500 this season. Now he returns to the scene of that triumph albeit with a different car under him. The car he won the Daytona 500 with is in Daytona U.S.A. so, he won’t be able to use that one but, I think he will have a car that is equally as good. Over his last ten points races at restrictor plate tracks Denny has two wins, five top five, and seven top ten finishes. Look for him to sweep Daytona this year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale is probably the king of restrictor plate racing. At least among all active drivers. He has had great cars in the first two races run on these tracks this year but, he has spun out in both of those races and wrecked his car. I think he will have another great car this weekend and if he can stay out of early trouble it is going to be hard for anyone to beat him.
Clint Bowyer: After a disappointing week in Sonoma last weekend when Clint had an electrical fire that took him out of the race, this team looks to improve on their finishing positions this year with a good run at Daytona. As I said before, anyone can win this race and Clint is one of the most consistent drivers on this type of track. I look for this team to come away with a top fifteen finish at the worst this weekend and they might surprise everyone.
Joey Logano: Joey is one of the drivers who isn’t afraid to stick the nose of his car where he wants it to be no matter who is around him. Somehow he seems to get away with it more often than not and you need that kind of luck when you are running on a restrictor plate track. I look for this team to have a fast car that is good in the draft and if he can hook up with teammate, Brad Keselowski, he will have a shot at the end.
Kurt Busch: Kurt is still looking for his first restrictor plate win in a points race. He is always very good at these tracks and just can’t seem to push across the finish line before all of the other drivers. This isn’t going to last forever and Kurt will be in the mix once again this weekend. I think he is well worth having on your team this week because of his consistency on this type of track.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin will also have a great car this weekend and you might not hear much about him until late in the race. If he qualifies towards the front or can get to the front quickly once the race starts he will stay there but, if he ends up somewhere in the middle to back of the pack he will bide his time and make his move when he needs to go at the end of the race.
Brad Keselowski: Brad won the race at Talladega this season and always seems to have a fast, great handling car when it comes to these tracks. He and Joey Logano seem to be able to find each other on the track quite easily and they work well together in the draft. If both of them stay out of trouble early, look for them to hook up and make a push for the checkered flag at the end of the race.
Austin Dillon: Austin is another driver who is very consistent at the restrictor plate tracks and he is only getting better each time as his experience increases and other drivers trust him more. I don’t think there are any drivers who don’t trust him anymore and he has learned a lot from his grandfather, Richard Childress, about how to win races here like the late great Dale Earnhardt.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin came up just short at Daytona this year and I mean just short. This team has been very fast and very consistent all season long and they will be a team to be reckoned with once again this weekend. With a win under their belt already this season they might take a chance on fuel or with pit strategy if they need it to try and pick up their second win of the season.
Jimmie Johnson: It has been a while since Jimmie has won a restrictor plate race but, if he can stay out of the big wreck he usually finishes in the top five. With a couple of wins under their belt already this season this team will also not be afraid to make some decisions on pit road that can get them in a position to win another race and collect the bonus points once the Chase starts.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Denny Hamlin
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Jamie McMurray
- Clint Bowyer
- Danica Patrick
- Casey Mears
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Michael McDowell
- Landon Cassill
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
- Denny Hamlin
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Kurt Busch
- Joey Logano
- Kevin Harvick
Dark Horse: Clint Bowyer
Stay Away From: Kasey Kahne
Big 18: Austin Dillon