Congratulations to Kevin Harvick who became the eleventh different winner of the series this season. Clint Bowyer overcame a spin with damage to his car and a pit road speeding penalty to finish second followed by Brad Keselowski who also had a lot of damage to his car in third place. There are still ten more races to go before the playoffs start and I think we will see a few more first time winners on the season before that happens.
COKE ZERO 400
This week the series goes from a road course track to a restrictor plate track as the drivers head back to the Daytona International Speedway for the running of the Coke Zero 400. This will be the last restrictor plate track on the schedule until the series goes back to Talladega during the playoffs and it could be a race where we get a new winner on the year. We’ve seen it before where any driver can win at this track on any given day. If you have a car that drafts well and can get some help you can win here as we saw with Trevor Bayne and David Ragan is past seasons. Plus we have quite a few other drivers who have won at this track before and are still looking for their first win of the season.
Denny Hamlin: I am picking Denny to get his first win of the season this weekend at Daytona. This team has been consistently fast at the restrictor plate tracks the past few seasons and they look like they are getting better and better every week. I think the Gibbs teams always have a good strategy at Daytona and Talladega and they work well together at these tracks too. Denny gets a push from a teammate on the last lap and uses it to propel himself to victory lane.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale will be the sentimental favorite this weekend in his final start here in this series when he is running for points. He will probably run races here in the future, but he won’t be running for points in those races, just for the win. I think he is going to do everything he can to pick up the win that will put him in position to run for a championship in his final full-time season in the Cup series. He leads all active drivers in wins and laps lead at this track and he wants to lead the last lap this weekend.
Joey Logano: Joey has finished in the top six in four of his last five starts at this track including winning the Daytona 500 last season. This team has really struggled lately and this is the type of place where they can get back on track. The Ford’s have shown a lot of speed and power and they have won both of the restrictor plate races run this year with Kurt Busch winning at Daytona and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. winning at Talladega.
Kevin Harvick: Now that he has his first win of the season he will be able to relax a little. This doesn’t mean that he is going to lay back on the track though. The pressure is off to get the first win, but he wants to win a bunch of races and rack up some bonus points. He has finished in the top four in three of his last five starts at Daytona and would love to make it back to back wins at two very different tracks.
Kurt Busch: Kurt won the Daytona 500 this year and lead the only lap that really mattered to him in that race. He has three top five finishes in his last five starts here and he always runs well at the other restrictor plate track on the circuit. I think this team would love to get another win right now so they can use it as a stepping stone to becoming more consistent as we get closer to the playoffs.
Brad Keselowski: Brad won this race last year and always seems to run well at both restrictor plate tracks. He leads a lot of laps at these tracks, but always seems to get caught up in some wreck somewhere along the line during the races, mostly through just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He will have a fast car once again this weekend just like teammate, Joey Logano, and will have a shot at claiming another victory this week if he can avoid trouble on the track or mechanically.
Clint Bowyer: Clint came close to picking up his first win of the season last weekend and I think this team will build on that momentum. Clint runs well here no matter if he is running for a top tier team or one of the lesser funded teams in the sport. He has four top ten finishes in his last six starts at Daytona and would love to pick up his first ever win here and first on the season to qualify himself for the playoffs in his first year at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Trevor Bayne: Trevor picked up his first and only career win at this track the first time he ever raced here. Now that the Roush/Fenway teams have shown they have a lot of speed once again this year and with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. winning at Talladega, this team could be a factor this weekend. He has finished in the top ten here in three of his last four starts and will have the speed and power to run up front once again this weekend.
Austin Dillon: Austin has always run well at both restrictor plate tracks during his short career and they have shown what they can do with fuel mileage this year too. He could steal another victory on fuel mileage, but I think he could win this race outright because he knows how to run in the draft. Late race restarts could be the key for all drivers this weekend because if you don’t get a good jump, you could find yourself wrecked when the field bottle-necks behind you.
Matt Kenseth: Matt could really use a win at this point of the season and he is one of the most patient drivers in the series. That goes a long way when it doesn’t really matter where you are early in the race unless you are really trying to get some stage points, but stage points don’t matter if you don’t make the playoffs. The real strategy for teams without a win right now is to get that win with only ten races left before the start of the playoffs.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Denny Hamlin
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Trevor Bayne
- Austin Dillon
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Kasey Kahne
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Michael McDowell
- Erik Jones
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
- Denny Hamlin
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Joey Logano
- Kevin Harvick
- Brad Keselowski
Dark Horse: Trevor Bayne
Stay Away From: Jamie McMurray
Big 18: Dale Earnhardt Jr.