November, December, January, and most of February have come and gone; the Super Bowl has taken place so that can mean only one thing – NASCAR is back! The Daytona 500 is right around the turn and you all want to know which drivers are good to pick for your fantasy team. Well, wait no further as I have some statistics for your to enjoy and to help make your fantasy selection that much easier. Or if you are someone who just enjoys statistics (like me) because they are interesting, then also read for your enjoyment.
Now, before I even put the numbers out there, my statistics are only back to 2004 and my reasoning behind that is the Chase came into effect in 2004. So every number you see, every win, every average, is based on the driver dating back to only 2004. So when I say Jeff Gordon only has 1 win in the Daytona 500, you know why now. So without further adieu, here are my Top 15 drivers for the Daytona 500 accompanied by some statistics!
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: With an average finish of 12.64 in 2013, Dale Jr. had one of his best seasons in NASCAR. With an average finish of 11 (and average start of 6.40) in the Daytona 500, he has the best finish of the active drivers. Sadly, he only has 1 win but it is very possible he will get win 2 this weekend. With Hendrick Motorsports powering his 88 Chevrolet, that just ups his chances even more.
Jimmie Johnson: Your 2013 Champion is always a good guy to take on any given weekend. With 2 wins in the Daytona 500, Johnson knows how to get it done. However, his average finish of 21.3 is not the best; in fact it is near the bottom of the pack. When Johnson runs well at Daytona, he runs really well; but when he does not run well, he runs quite poorly. But he is Jimmie Johnson and he does drive a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports so there is a lot of good that comes from that.
Kevin Harvick: 1 win and an average finish of 16.1 makes Happy Harvick one great pick for the Daytona 500. His average finish is better than Johnson, but with a new team and all the unknowns that come with that can make for a not so good race. However, Harvick is a veteran on this sport and Stewart-Hass Racing is a pretty good organization. Harvick could very well make a lot of noise and right out of the gate so do not count him out to be there at the end.
Jeff Gordon: 75% of the Hendrick Motorsports stable I am predicting to finish in the top 5; Jeff Gordon rounds of that percentage. The veteran of the organization, Gordon has proven that he has not lost it when it comes to keeping up with Johnson and the new kids. Gordon has 1 win in recent years but has a mediocre average finish of 21.1, basically matching his teammate Johnson. If Gordon and his team can get everything right and keep it together, Gordon very well could add another Daytona 500 trophy to his collection.
Matt Kenseth: Here is your first Toyota driver to keep an eye on, and he drives for Joe Gibbs Racing. In his second year with this team, watch this veteran continue to make strides and rack up more wins. With 2 wins and an average finish of 21, Kenseth is on par with Johnson, which should not come as a surprise. The only reason Kenseth is lower on the list is driving a Toyota at the Daytona 500 is not as good of a choice as driving a Chevrolet; but if that means nothing to you, by all means, pick Kenseth to win the race.
Kurt Busch: The Outlaw is with a new team for the millionth time in a handful of years. Could this move to Stewart-Hass be the place for him? Only time will tell; but first, Busch has to make the Daytona 500. With 0 wins and an average finish of 20.4, Kurt could make waves or fall flat on his face. There are many unknowns about this move but for his sake, I hope he makes waves.
Tony Stewart: Smoke is back and he is going to be hungry and aggressive on the track. Stewart is one of the best racers out there, no matter the car or surface he is driving on. However, the Daytona 500 has eluded him his entire career thus far, but he does know how to win on restrictor plate tracks. With an average finish of 16, Stewart knows how to run well here; he just needs to close the deal. Maybe this will be his year, and what better way to come back after missing half of 2013 than to win the biggest race of the year!
Kyle Busch: 0 wins and an average finish of 22.56 puts the younger Busch in middle of the pack, but he still knows how to run well at any track on the circuit. Busch can make waves in the Daytona 500 and with teammate Matt Kenseth leading the way for Joe Gibbs Racing, hopefully Busch has taken some notes from 2013 and can apply them and make himself a better racer.
Kasey Kahne: The last of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers appears to notch a Top 10 at the Daytona 500. 0 wins and an average finish of 23.7 make Kahne a sleeper pick. Just like his teammates Gordon and Johnson, Kahne can either do quite well at the Daytona 500, or end up at the back of the pack. As long as he can avoid wrecks and other people’s issues, he can make some noise.
Ryan Newman: Rounding out the Top 10 is new comer to Richard Childress Racing, Ryan Newman. The good news for Ryan is he a win (1) in the Daytona 500 accompanied by a 21.1 average finish. He may be the new guy on the block at RCR, but he also brings the most experience to the table. Could RCR be the right place for Newman to really make some noise this season? The Daytona 500 might be a good judge on that.
Carl Edwards: The first Ford driver I suggest you keep your eye on is Carl Edwards. He does not have a win but an average finish of 18.56 is nothing to put off. Roush Fenway Racing may not be the best team in the garage area when it comes to the Daytona 500, but Edwards is best man to put this Ford team on the map at Daytona.
Greg Biffle: Since restrictor plate tracks require at least some form of teamwork, expect Biffle to be right there with Edwards. Biffle is very comparable to his teammate of Edwards; 0 wins with an average finish of 17. So why is this Roush Fenway Racing driver behind Edwards with a better finish? Overall at Daytona, Biffle has a slightly worse record than Edwards.
Paul Menard: The veteran over at Richard Childress Racing, being that he has been there the longest of his teammates, has 0 wins in the Daytona 500 but a respectable average finish of 18.17. Menard can be a pretty consistent driver through the season so the Daytona 500 may be a telling sign of what we can expect from him this year. Yet with 2 new drivers on the team, will Menard fall into the shadows of the rookie Austin Dillon and new comer yet veteran as well Ryan Newman?
Jamie McMurray: Whether or not you remember it, McMurray does have 1 Daytona 500 victory under his belt. McMurray has proven to be a pretty good restrictor plate racer and can get it done. He has an average finish of 28.1, so it is not the best of the 43 drivers by any means, but he knows how to get it done and can hopefully have the rookie of Kyle Larson right there with him this year.
Denny Hamlin: Rounding out the Top 15 is Denny Hamlin, who, like Tony Stewart, dealt with an injury in 2013. Hamlin was not out as long as Stewart but it took until the end of the season to see Hamlin back into shape. Hamlin may have 0 wins in the Daytona 500 but his average finish of 19.63 rivals that of some of those who have. As long as Hamlin is 100%, look for him to make a big splash this season and be aggressive for wins.
Dark Horses: Clint Bowyer (average finish: 11.88), David Ragan (average finish: 23), Austin Dillon, Michael Waltrip Racing
Daytona 500 Race Statistics
Race Speed (mph):
95% Confidence Interval: (123.195, 164.03). What does this interpret to exactly? I am 95% confident that the average race speed will be between 123.195mph and 164.03mph.
Margin of Victory (seconds):
95% Confidence Interval: (-0.013, 0.292). What does this interpret to exactly? I am 95% confident that the margin of victory will be between -0.013 seconds and 0.292 seconds. (Now we all know there cannot be a negative margin of victory but this is mathematics so yes, negative values can be possible).
95% Confidence Interval: (-5.985, 70.985). What does this interpret to exactly? I am 95% confident that the number of lead changes will be between -5.985 and 70.985.
95% Confidence Interval: (1.964, 15.436). What does this interpret to exactly? I am 95% confident that the number of cautions will be between 1.964 and 15.436.
95% Confidence Interval: (11.615, 59.585). What does this interpret to exactly? I am 95% confident that the number of caution laps will be between 11.6154 and 59.585.
95% Confidence Interval: (-26.139, 65.139). What does this interpret to exactly? I am 95% confident that the first caution lap will be between -26.139 and 65.139.
95% Confidence Interval: (97.476, 264.124). What does this interpret to exactly? I am 95% confident that the last caution lap will be between 97.476 and 264.124.