The first driver to watch for is second-year driver Chase Elliot. Before coming to NASCAR, Elliot had a very impressive run in the Xfinity series and proved that he could handle the Monster Energy Cup Series. In his first year, Elliot definitely impressed with twenty top ten finishes as well as making the Chase, the NASCAR playoffs, which is quite an accomplishment for a rookie driver.Although the young driver did well throughout the season, he crashed at last year’s Daytona 500 which caused him to finish 37th. Elliot is hungry to redeem himself this year in Daytona and hopefully start this year with a statement win.
Daniel Suarez is another new face to Daytona and there is a lot of excitement around him. Suarez is the defending Xfinity Series champion and is looking to start this year off right with a win at Daytona.
The Mexican born driver has a lot to prove in this series but is expected to do very well. He hopes to not only represent the Joe Gibbs Racing team, but also the whole country of Mexico extremely well. We will have to see how he fares as the faces a much higher level of competition.
An obvious favorite to win the Daytona 500 is the always dangerous Jimmie Johnson. Once again representing the number 48 car, Johnson is looking to add another win under his belt. Johnson has won the Daytona 500 twice in 2006 and 2013 but he has won the NASCAR Playoffs seven times.
No. 48 is out for history this year in becoming the first driver to win eight championships and it all starts with one of the biggest races of the year, in the great state of Florida. Expect Johnson to come out strong as he is on a mission and will arguably go down as one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history. Another veteran with a lot of questions around him is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last season, he suffered from concussion issues and everyone around the NASCAR community is wondering how he will respond coming into this season. Earnhardt Jr. is always a favorite in the Daytona 500 as he has come in and won this race four times. The veteran is consistently one of the top drivers every year and it will be interesting to see how he fares in this race. It’s good to see Earnhardt Jr. back on the track but it’s very hard to come back from a layoff and compete with the top racers in a major race like the Daytona 500.
The last driver to keep an eye on is Denny Hamlin, who had a decent 2016 season. Hamlin won the Dayton 500 last year and is looking to add his name to the list of drivers who have won two consecutive Daytona 500s. The last person to accomplish this feat was Sterling Martin in 1994 and 1995.
The Daytona 500 never fails to entertain as it is one of the most exciting races every year and is the first big race of every season. Will one of these drivers finish at the top? We will have to wait and see. Tune in February 26th to watch another exciting race from Daytona Beach