2022 NASCAR Preview: Week 26 – Daytona

Last Chance Gulch…

The time has come for the final race of the regular season, and everyone wants to get in! We’ve seen wild things happen at Daytona, and with Qualifying getting rained out we’re going to have all kinds of variables strewn throughout the field. I think we’re in for a big one (and a Big One!) tonight — strap in, here we go!

Here’s what to look for:

-The field has been set per the rule book, and Kyle Larson (last week’s winner) will start up front. He doesn’t NEED to win this race, but everyone wants to have some momentum heading into the Playoffs. In nine attempts, Larson has three Top 10s and a 19.6 average finish.

Chase Elliott has got to be thrilled (not really!) starting alongside his teammate Kyle Larson who drove him deep into Turn 1 at Watkins Glen before cutting him off and shuffling Chase back to 4th. Following the race at Watkins Glen, Chase was crowned the Regular Season Champion as he couldn’t be caught. Elliott also doesn’t need to Win this race, but he is favored to capture the flag tonight at Bristol. I mean Daytona.

-In two starts at Daytona, Austin Cindric has the best average of any driver in this race (8.0), and took home the trophy at this year’s DAYTONA 500. Like everyone on this list so far, he also doesn’t need a Win to hit the postseason but could be up there again at the end of this one.

-Would you believe that of all the drivers active in the Cup Series the next best is Justin Haley with an average finish of 10.8. He’s got two Top 10s in four starts, and even took home a Summer Daytona victory a few years ago. It was rain-shortened, but he’s up there most of the race each time, and could totally surprise some people tonight. But I wouldn’t be surprised!

Michael McDowell was in the running at Watkins Glen, and now he’s on his last crack at Daytona. McDowell is the 2021 DAYTONA 500 champion, and has five Top 10s in his last ten attempts. That is tied for most in the Cup Series, and McDowell could absolutely get the job done tonight. What an exciting race for us to take in!

Coverage of the race starts on NBC at 7:00pm, green flag scheduled near that, too.

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