Five to Watch at Daytona: Junior, Hamlin Are Favorites


5 to watch

Fresh off a thrilling and wildly popular win at Sonoma, Tony Stewart is set for his final start at Daytona – where he’s a four-time winner of the track’s July race. After sitting out what would have been his final Daytona 500, Stewart won’t be lacking motivation this weekend.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won last July’s race at Daytona in dominant fashion but has failed to impress in two restrictor-plate starts this year. This will be Earnhardt’s first plate race since 2014 without his beloved plate car dubbed “Amelia,” which he crashed at Talladega in May.

After winning this year’s Daytona 500 in dramatic fashion, Denny Hamlin will look to pull off the rare Daytona sweep this weekend. He will be in a different car, however, since his 500-winning car will sit in the track’s museum until February.

One of the sport’s most underrated plate drivers, Brad Keselowski won for the fourth time at Talladega when the Sprint Cup Series convened there in May. The Team Penske driver has yet to unlock the door to Victory Lane at Daytona, however.

Martin Truex Jr., the driver who lost this year’s Daytona 500 by .01 to Denny Hamlin, no doubt returns to The World Center of Racing with a little extra motivation to be the driver out front when the checkered flag waves this time.