A rough start doesn’t have to mean a bad finish.
As history has shown, anything and everything can happen on the track during the Daytona 500. Drivers who avoid wrecks and race smart can make headway this Sunday and move up in spite of their poor starting position.
Don’t be surprised to see the following drivers in the race leaders’ rear-view mirrors on Sunday.
After qualifying 11th for the Daytona on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he was looking to get more speed out of his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Per Jeff Owens of SportingNews.com: “I wish it would’ve went a little bit faster today, obviously, but we still have some things to learn about the car to get some speed in the car...I’m sure we’ll have a good car for the 500,” Earnhardt said.
Although Dale Jr. sounded guarded after his results in qualifying, he’s won this race before and can certainly be counted on to move up the ranks if his car is running well on Sunday.
He will start 19th after finishing ninth in the first duel race.
Last year’s Daytona 500 champ is back, and he will almost certainly claw his way into race contention after qualifying 10th last Sunday.
Matt Kenseth is a two-time Daytona 500 champion—no easy feat for any driver—and his ability to avoid trouble in this kind of race will be the reason he moves up and puts on a strong, if not winning, performance.
He will start 12th following an eighth-place finish in the duel races.
Burton has won at Daytona before, and he had 11 top-10 finishes on this track in his career.
Jeff Burton qualified 20th last Sunday, but don’t be surprised if he manhandles the new car up into contention after things get hairy.
Burton will start 18th following his finish in the duels.
Michael Waltrip is sitting in the middle-back of the pack after qualifying 31st for the Daytona. Pure experience, along with a fast car, could keep him out of trouble and moving up into position.
Not to mention, he’s driving an awesome Sandy Hook Elementary-inspired car.
Waltrip will start near where he qualified, 29th, after finishing 14th in his duel race.