The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season officially gets underway today with the 64th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Read on below to see my prediction for who will win the race, as well as my top 10, dark horse, and driver to fade predictions.
Winner: Chris Buescher- Buescher has been sneaky good at Daytona, with 5 top 10’s in 12 career starts. Buescher has also been been fast all week long, finishing in the top 5 in each of the first 3 practices and winning the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona race. Lastly, Buescher is joined at RFK Racing by new teammate Brad Keselowski, one of the best superspeedway racers in NASCAR. All of this adds up to Chris Buescher bringing home RFK Racing’s first win since 2017 and first playoff berth since 2019!
Top 10: Harrison Burton- Burton had a great deal of success at Daytona when he raced there in the Xfinity Series, with 3 top 5’s and 4 top 10’s in 4 career starts with Joe Gibbs Racing. Burton has shown speed over the course of the week, finishing 1st in Practice 4, running in the top 10 in both Practice 2 and Pole Qualifying, and finishing 3rd in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona race en route to an 8th place starting spot for today’s race. Wood Brothers Racing usually brings the speed to Daytona and I predict that Harrison Burton will bring home his first top 10 in the Cup Series today.
Dark Horse: Justin Haley- Even though he is just 22 years old, Haley can make a legitimate claim to be the King of Daytona, with 3 wins, 7 top 10’s, and just 1 finish outside the top 20 in 11 career starts at Daytona across the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck Series. Driving for Kaulig Racing, Haley will be starting in 25th place today. Haley is by no means the fastest car on the track, but the draft will help him. If he avoids the big one, Haley will be a threat for a top 15 finish by the end of the race.
Driver to Fade: Martin Truex Jr.- It’s no secret that Truex has struggled at Daytona, as he has just 3 top 5’s, 5 top 10’s, and 16 top 20’s in 33 career starts. He’s finished outside the top 20 in each of the last 3 Daytona 500’s and in 5 of the last 6 races at Daytona. Truex is an easy fade, as he will likely get caught up in the big one and will finish outside the top 20 yet again.