The Daytona 500, one of the most iconic races in the world of motorsports, is set to take place on February 19, 2023. The 65th edition of this prestigious event is poised to be a thrilling one, with some of the best drivers in the world looking to make their mark.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 10 active drivers who are hoping to breakthrough in the 65th Daytona 500 and potentially claim their first win in this race.
Here is a table of the 10 active Daytona 500 Driver’s NASCAR race careers.
|No.||Name||Career starts/wins||Superspeedway starts/wins||Daytona 500 starts||Best Daytona 500 finish||Average Daytona finish|
|10||Chris Buescher||257/2||29/0||7||5th (2018)||22.4|
|9||Chase Elliott||257/18||28/2 (Talladega: spring 2019, fall 2022)||7||2nd (2021)||20.9|
|8||Ryan Blaney||270/7||32/3 (Talladega: fall 2019, spring 2020. Daytona: summer 2021)||8||2nd (2017, 2020)||18.1|
|7||Kyle Larson||295/19||33/0||9||7th (2016, 2019)||22.6|
|6||Ricky Stenhouse||364/2||40/2 (Talladega: spring 2017. Daytona: summer, 2017)||11||7th (2014)||20.1|
|5||AJ Allmendinger||394/2||37/0||9||3rd (2009, 2017)||20.4|
|4||Aric Almirola||424/3||48/1 (Daytona: summer, 2014)||12||4th (2017)||20.2|
|3||Brad Keselowski||485/35||55/7 (Talladega: spring 2009, spring 2012, fall 2014, spring 2016, fall 2017, spring 2021. Daytona: summer 2016)||13||3rd (2014)||23.1|
|2||Martin Truex Jr.||621/31||71/0||18||2nd (2016)||21.5|
|1||Kyle Busch||642/60||70/2 (Talladega: spring 2008. Daytona summer 2008)||17||2nd (2019)||19|
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#10 Chris Buescher
Chris Buescher and his teammate Brad Keselowski made history last year by sweeping the Duel races. The No. 17 car driven by Buescher has a proud history of success, having won the Daytona 500 three times, including Matt Kenseth’s victory in 2012.
#9 Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott’s victory in the Cup Series’ most recent superspeedway race in Talladega has positioned him for even greater success. If he wins the Daytona 500, he and his father Bill Elliott will become the fifth father-son duo to win the Great American Race, joining the ranks of racing legends such as Lee and Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
#8 Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney boasts the best average Daytona finish among all current drivers, with three top fives in the last six 500s. A victory in the Daytona 500 would secure Team Penske’s second straight victory and fourth overall, putting it on par with some of the greatest racing teams in history, such as Joe Gibbs Racing and Robert Yates Racing.
#7 Kyle Larson
Kyle Larson set the pace last year, starting on the pole for the Daytona 500. Despite some subpar finishes in summer races, his overall Daytona average is still impressive, including three top 10s in the last four years. Hendrick Motorsports, a team with eight Daytona 500 victories, second only to Petty Enterprises, has not won the Great American Race since Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victory in 2014. None of the team’s current drivers, including Larson, have won the Daytona 500 yet.
#6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has a notable track record at Talladega, with a 15.4 average finish and nine top 10s. Despite a 20.1 average finish at Daytona and just one top-10 finish in the Daytona 500, his checkers-or-wreckers superspeedway style is due to pay off soon. Chevrolet has not been to Victory Lane since Austin Dillon’s win in 2018, making Stenhouse a strong contender for the win.
#5 AJ Allmendinger
AJ Allmendinger – Despite being known as a hater of superspeedway racing, Allmendinger has had a successful run in the Xfinity Series. He won the fall Talladega race in 2021 and was in the top three for all four Xfinity superspeedway races in 2022. With back-to-back top 10 finishes in the last two 500 starts (third in 2017, 10th in 2018), Allmendinger is set to make a full-time Cup Series schedule with Kaulig Racing.
#4 Aric Almirola
Aric Almirola – This talented racer has three career victories, including one at Daytona. He had a close call in 2018, leading into Turn 3 on the final lap before being turned by Dillon. After considering retirement, Almirola signed a multi-year extension with Stewart-Haas Racing, hoping for a win at the Daytona 500.
#3 Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski – With a vast experience in superspeedway racing, Keselowski is a strong contender for the Daytona 500. He has had many close calls, including last year when he started in overtime on the front row, only to fade to ninth due to the cars in his lane breaking up behind him. If RFK Racing wins the Daytona 500, it will be the third first-time winning team in the last 12 years.
#2 Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. – After ending a winless drought with a win at the Busch Light Clash, Truex is a strong contender for the Daytona 500. He was on the short end of Denny Hamlin’s first 500 win in 2016, missing victory by only 0.01 seconds. Truex won both the first and second stage last year, making him a strong racer to watch.
#1 Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch – With a new team and outlook, Busch won two superspeedway races in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing. However, he went 14 years without another win. With his 18th start in the Daytona 500, Busch is racing in his first points-paying race with the Richard Childress Racing No. 8 car. With an average finish of eighth in two Daytona races last year, Busch is a racer to watch.
READ ALSO: NASCAR 2023 Daytona 500: Which Teams Could Miss the Race and Why?
The 65th Daytona 500 promises to be a spectacular event, with ten talented drivers looking to secure their first win at the prestigious race. With top drivers such as Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. among the contenders, it will be a fierce battle on the track. However, rising stars like Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Larson, as well as other experienced drivers such as Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., AJ Allmendinger, and Brad Keselowski, are all eager to claim victory. The race is anyone’s to win, and with history on the line, fans can expect an exciting and unforgettable event.
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