Another new-winner on the horizon at Daytona?

Who is most likely to earn their first Sprint Cup win at Daytona this weekend, following in the footsteps of Aric Almirola?

Another new-winner on the horizon at Daytona?

Daytona, like Talladega, has a habit of producing new and surprising winners through its hectic pack racing and unpredictable, incessant shifts in the running order throughout the entire race. It's an event where almost any driver can have a shot at victory if they survive the inevitable carnage and make the right moves when everyone is jostling for position in the sprint to the checkered flag.

Joey Logano won the Daytona 500 earlier this year, but in last year's 4th of July race, Aric Almirola was able to emerge victorious for the first time in his Sprint Cup career. It took the Richard Petty Motorsports driver 125 starts before securing his first win, launching him into the Chase.

He is the third first-time winner at Daytona in the last four years, joined by 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne and 2011 July race-victor David Ragan. 

Other drivers who earned their first victory at DIS are Greg Biffle (2003), Michael Waltrip (2001),  John Andretti (1997), Sterling Marlin (1994), Jimmy Spencer (1994), Derrike Cope (1990), Greg Sacks (1985), Pete Hamilton (1970), Mario Andretti (1967), Sam McQuagg (1966), Earl Balmer (1966), A.J. Foyt (1964), Bobby Isaac (1964), Tiny Lund (1963), and Johnny Rutherford (1963).

With the new Chase format, winning is paramount and for smaller teams and new drivers on the scene, there's no better place to make a name for yourself than at these hallowed racing grounds. With that being said, who is most likely to break through and rid themselves of the goose egg in their win column this weekend?

5.) Ryan Blaney

Starts: 1

Best Finish: 39th

Unfortunately, the young driver was taken out of the 2015 Daytona 500 by an engine failure after placing sixth in his qualifying race, but is still a driver to watch in that Wood Brothers Ford, which won the 2011 Daytona 500 with Bayne at the wheel. Blaney impressed at Talladega a couple months back, running in contention for the win before finishing fourth. 

4.) Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Starts: 6

Best Finish: 7th

Stenhouse hasn't put up head-turning statistics in his six Daytona starts, but he has proven to be a competent plate racer. He has never failed to finish and has one of the better average finishes of the drivers entered in this weekend's race.

3.) Danica Patrick

Starts: 6

Best Finish: 8th (Twice)

The IndyCar-turned NASCAR star has enjoyed some of her best performances on place tracks, earning pole position for the 2013 Daytona 500. The high-intensity pack racing she experienced in IndyCar has paid dividends on the NASCAR side, but the chaotic end to these races seems to be her Achilles Heel. Let's forget what's under the hood of that No. 10 Chevrolet either - Hendrick power.

2.) David Gilliland

Starts: 14

Best Finish: 3rd

The Front Row Motorsports driver is one of the strongest underdogs in the field when NASCAR visits a plate track. He's led four of the 14 races he's started and nearly pushed Carl Edwards to the win in the 2011 Daytona 500, placing third himself. And with 14 starts, he's the most experienced non-winner in the field.

1.) Austin Dillon

Starts: 4

Best Finish: 5th

Austin Dillon, besides the fact that he has a No. 3 on his door, is expected to run well at Daytona. He won the pole for the 2014 Daytona 500 and all ECR-powered teams have shown strength at the plate tracks recently. Dillon's lone top five in his career thus far came in last year's July race and only Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a better average finish than him at Daytona.

Other drivers of note to watch include Landon Cassill, Brian Scott, and Sam Hornish Jr.

shares
comments
NASCAR strengthens stance on Confederate flag

Previous article

NASCAR strengthens stance on Confederate flag

Next article

After the crash: Daytona's new safety upgrades

After the crash: Daytona's new safety upgrades
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021