SANDERS: Will Anyone Outrun The Ford Drivers On Sunday In The Daytona 500

by February 17, 2018 0 comments

Going into the 60th running of the Daytona 500, excitement and anticipation is abound, but what fans really want to know is who will win the biggest stock car race in the world.

Restrictor plate races are inherently unpredictable with all 40 drivers at mercy of the draft. A new aero package and unrestricted suspension heights make the cars even quicker but more unstable.

Despite crashing in his duel, Brad Keselowski has to be the favorite. The 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion held off the entire field in the Advance Auto Parts Clash with only two right-side tires. Keselowski has also won six of the last 30 restrictor plate races. Keselowski hasn’t had the best of luck in The Great American Race and will be coming from the 31st starting position.

It is obvious that if a driver wants to win the Daytona 500, their best shot is in a Ford. Despite a body that has been unchanged since 2013, the Fusion body style is slippery in the draft and a potent leader with Roush-Yates horsepower. Ryan Blaney won his Can-Am Duel race and Team Penske teammate Joey Logano has finished second in both Speedweeks races thus far.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is also driving like a man possessed after getting black-flagged during the Clash. Stenhouse and Ford teammate Paul Menard appeared to have the best handling cars in their respective Can-Am Duels by being able to cut hard to the bottom of the track. Stewart-Hass Racing’s new driver Aric Almirola only ran three restrictor plate races last season, after missing the Coke Zero 400 due to injury, but he accrued three top-10 finishes.

However, if any driver can spoil the Ford party, it is Chase Elliott in his new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Elliott has won two of the three Can-Am Duel races that he has competed in and came agonizingly close to victory in the 2017 edition of the Daytona 500. Elliott has finished second seven times, and with his family’s number and a fast Hendrick Motorsports car, it is only a matter of time before he breaks through for a win.

Noticeably absent so far this Speedweeks are the factory Toyotas. Despite sharing the front row with pole winner Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin was easily shifted out of the draft late in his Can-Am Duel. The best Toyota finish so far is a third by Erik Jones who was wrestling his car in both events. However, lead Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch may be laying in the weeds until its time.

A dark horse pick may be Darrell Wallace Jr. The King’s new driver finished third in his Can-Am Duel after pushing friend, Ryan Blaney to victory. Wallace’s Chevrolet advanced 10 positions in his Duel by making bold and daring moves in the draft.

Live coverage of the 60th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway will broadcast on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

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