Daytona 500 Starting Lineup: Showcasing Dark-Horse Contenders
The Daytona 500 will feature several stars at the front of the pack, but there are still a handful of drivers with a shot to win this year's race who will be toward the back of the starting lineup.
Top-class driving during qualification does not always lead to a positive performance when the biggest day on the NASCAR calendar arrives. The opposite is also true, and few drivers who were not expected to do much will find their way to the front.
While the horrific crash during Saturday's Nationwide series event will loom over this year's Daytona 500, the drivers still have a race to complete.
Here are the dark-horse candidates to watch for on Sunday.
Staring Position: 21
Logano is one of the most exciting young talents in NASCAR and is ready for a fantastic performance at the Daytona 500.
The 22-year-old cracked the top 10 for the first time in his career in last year’s race, and he will be looking to continue improving his Daytona resume.
While a middle-of-the-pack start will not help Logano earn his best finish ever in his sport’s marquee race, the lowered expectations offer him the chance to let loose on the track.
Keep an eye on Logano during the race, as he will be patiently waiting to make his move.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Starting Position: 28
While casual NASCAR fans know Stenhouse Jr. as Danica Patrick’s new boyfriend, the other drivers in the race will know him better as the reigning Nationwide Series champ.
He is one of the most hyped rookies in the Sprint Cup Series this season, and he will be desperately trying to start his season on a high note.
The results he earned last season speak for themselves, and he certainly has the ability to pull off an impressive finish, despite starting in the back half of the pack.
Stenhouse Jr. should be on any list of potential surprise winners for this year’s Daytona 500.
Starting Position: 35
While the young drivers may have the bravado necessary to pull off an upset, Denny Hamlin’s experience will surely be an asset during the race as well.
The 2010 Sprint Cup Series runner-up tied Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson for the most wins last season, and he will be looking to finish atop the standings for the first time in his career this year.
To kick off his campaign, Hamlin would certainly like a victory at Daytona.
The 32-year-old will be extremely focused for this race, and he will start to make up ground from his poor starting position as soon as the engines start roaring.
|1||Danica Patrick||2||Jeff Gordon|
|3||Kevin Harvick||4||Kyle Busch|
|5||Greg Biffle||6||Kasey Kahne|
|7||Juan Pablo Montoya||8||Austin Dillon|
|9||Jimmie Johnson||10||Clint Bowyer|
|11||Kurt Busch||12||Matt Kenseth|
|13||Tony Stewart||14||Mark Martin|
|15||Brad Keselowski||16||Paul Menard|
|17||Casey Mears||18||Jeff Burton|
|19||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||20||Jamie McMurray|
|21||Joey Logano||22||David Ragan|
|23||Bobby Labonte||24||Marcos Ambrose|
|25||David Gilliland||26||Aric Almirola|
|27||Joe Nemechek||28||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
|29||Michael Waltrip||30||Dave Blaney|
|31||Scott Speed||32||Josh Wise|
|33||Trevor Bayne||34||Ryan Newman|
|35||Denny Hamlin||36||Carl Edwards|
|37||Martin Truex Jr.||38||Michael McDowell|
|39||Terry Labonte||40||Regan Smith|
|41||J.J. Yeley||42||David Reutimann|
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