The Daytona 500. The biggest race on the NASCAR calendar. You win it and your name is etched in history forever.
Seven drivers enter the 2020 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 16, 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX) having already won “The Great American Race:” Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson have each won twice, while Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick have all won this race once.
KRAFT: This is likely the obvious choice on the list given his superspeedway success, but it’s hard for me to see how Joey Logano would not be the first choice to notch another Daytona 500 victory. The Team Penske driver has four superspeedway wins in his career. He also has finished in the top six in the past five Daytona 500s – the only driver to do so. The 29-year-old has a knack for being at the front when it’s go time at these types of races.
Team Penske’s superspeedway strength is an additional reason I view Logano as the most likely repeat winner – he’s the only Penske driver on the potential repeat winner list. Logano’s teammates Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney are strong superspeedway racers, and the trio have a knack for finding a way to work together at this type of racing. Add in Ford’s strength in numbers as well, and that’s an added recipe for success to Logano adding another Harley J. Earl Trophy to his collection.
ALBERT: Obvious choice? If we’re keeping the discussion to former winners, let’s not dig all that far back into the history books and go with a recent Joey Logano foil who already has multiple 500 crowns: Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin has three wins at a similar track called Talladega Superspeedway in the last five years, but his Daytona 500 statistics rate even more highly when it comes to consistency. In the last six Daytona 500s, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has a stellar average finish of 4.67 (a hair better than Logano’s 5.33). Perhaps more impressively, Hamlin has gone his whole career (a span of 14 starts) without a Daytona 500 DNF.
JGR-affiliated cars led more than half of last year’s running of “The Great American Race” (116 of 207 laps) and wound up with a 1-2-3 finish, so their ability to make teamwork click is a relatively fresh concept. Don’t be surprised if it’s Hamlin leading that charge again.