Will Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pull off another victory?
Throughout Speedweeks, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 88 team has had a rocket ship. “Amelia,” the name of the No. 88 car, has raced in four previous races all within the last season, picking up two wins, including last July in Daytona. A third win in the Great American race could cement Earnhardt’s legacy as the best driver in Daytona 500 history.
Can Joey Logano snap the streak of second-place finishes?
The defending Daytona 500 winner has finished second in every race that he has participated in during Speedweeks. In the Sprint Unlimited he crossed the finish line behind Denny Hamlin. Move forward to Thursday and he was second to Earnhardt. In the XFINITY Series race on Saturday he had the dominating car, leading 40 laps, but ultimately came up just short to Chase Elliott.
Logano posted two restrictor-plate victories in 2015, the other one coming at the fall Talladega event. In his career he has been hit or miss on the plate tracks, but since joining the No. 22 team, he has been near the top.
Taking over the No. 24 car:
For the first time in his young career, Elliott will be behind the wheel of the No. 24 car during race conditions. Replacing a legend in Jeff Gordon is hard enough, but during qualifying last week the 20-year-old showed that he has ice water in his veins by winning the pole for the biggest race of the season.
In the XFINITY Series race on Saturday the kid learned a lot after placing his machine in Victory Lane holding off a charging Logano. He begins his rookie campaign on the top of the leader board before the race. Will he secure a spot in the Chase following the event?
Joe Gibbs Racing loyal to one another:
Three of the JGR Toyota’s were in the second Can-Am Duel on Thursday evening, when the main goal was to win the race and have all three drivers finish up front. Until a pit stop around Lap 40, that is exactly what the three cars did.
After starting from pole, Matt Kenseth took the early lead, followed by teammates Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. The trio formed a line near the outside wall allowing every other driver to follow suit. In the end, Busch recorded a victory and Edwards posted a top five finish, but the No. 20 car crashed after he was supposed to begin the 500-miler from the second starting position.
Starting from the back:
In the final lap of the second Can-Am Duel race on Thursday, Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Martin, Truex, Jr. and AJ Allmendinger were all caught up in an incident as they were battling for the win. It forced these four teams to backup cars, not having any real draft experience in the new car except for Kenseth.
Two of these drivers are former Daytona 500 winners, but will have to overcome the odds on Sunday starting in the rear.