Sunday's 55th running of the Daytona 500 will kick off a new NASCAR Sprint Cup season full of promise and excitement.
Every driver that takes the green flag on Sunday is a potential winner and a potential champion in the making—well, at least for one race.
Where those same drivers wind up 35 races later—after the season finale at Homestead—is a whole different story.
That's why, while Daytona is still the biggest race of the season, the outcome of Sunday's race doesn't necessarily mean all that much in how the season ultimately plays out.
But this is still Daytona. Once a Daytona champion, always a Daytona champion. Even if you never win a Cup championship, a Daytona 500 title means almost as much. Just ask guys like Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick and others.
As we look forward to seeing how every driver will do on Sunday, this article will serve as the first piece in a series of power rankings that will the track progress—or lack thereof—of the top drivers in NASCAR from now through Homestead.
While there will typically be 20 drivers featured in each subsequent edition of NASCAR Power Rankings, this article will feature 23 drivers in order to include two drivers who did not finish in the top-20 last season (Juan Pablo Montoya and Kurt Busch), as well as Daytona 500 pole sitter Danica Patrick.
Gentlemen, start your engines...