Kyle Larson and the 4 Playoff Drivers From 2022 Who Are Highly Unlikely to Win the Daytona 500

The drivers with the best chance of winning Sunday’s Daytona 500 couldn’t be more obvious. Whether their inclusion on the shortlist of favorites is based on their history in The Great American Race or other factors, it pretty much goes without saying that Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliott are at the top of the proverbial stack.

But what about those whose results would suggest they barely have a prayer of being covered in champagne at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday night or hoisting the iconic Harley J. Earl winner’s trophy?

Up next are four drivers who were part of the 2022 Cup Series playoff field but have virtually no chance of going to Victory Lane this weekend at The World Center of Racing.

Daniel Suarez

Daniel Suarez has enjoyed a good Speedweeks so far both on and off the race track. Off the track, he and Trackhouse Racing announced they’ve entered into a multi-year agreement to continue their relationship beyond 2023.

On the track, Suarez impressed in his qualifying race — aside from sending Kyle Busch into the wall on a straightaway — and even led two laps before ultimately finishing 12th out of 21 entries.

Don’t expect the Mexico-born driver to make much noise in Sunday’s main event, however. At least not if his previous results at Daytona have anything to do with it. In 11 points-paying starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Suarez has a best finish of 17th — recorded all the way back in 2017 during his days with Joe Gibbs Racing.

It’s easy to identify the main source of Suarez’s Daytona struggles, however. He has nine DNFs here. In other words, he’s made it to the checkered flag just twice. That’s bad. Downright awful, in fact.

If Suarez harbors any legitimate intentions of being a contender to win Sunday’s Daytona 500, he’ll need to first stay out of trouble — which for him is easier said than done at the track NASCAR founder William H.G. “Big Bill” France built in 1959.

Austin Cindric

Yes, Austin Cindric won last year’s Daytona 500 as a Cup Series rookie and finished third in his return visit to the fabled speedway last August. But if you expect him to repeat as Sunday 500 champion, well, you don’t know a whole lot about NASCAR history.

Only four times in more than six decades of The Great American Race has a driver gone back-to-back. Prior to Denny Hamlin doing so in 2019 and 2020, it hadn’t happened since way back in 1994 and 1995, when Sterling Marlin pulled off the rare feat.

The only other drivers who’ve accomplished this are legends Richard Petty (1973-74) and Cale Yarborough (1983-1984).

Will Cindric be an exception to the “rule” that seems to all but forbid a driver from becoming a repeat Daytona 500 winner? Anything’s possible — but the data certainly doesn’t bode well for him.

Kyle Larson

How could a driver who’s won 13 races and a NASCAR Cup Series championship over the past two seasons be considered such a longshot to leave Daytona a winner this weekend?

Easy. Kyle Larson just isn’t very good at Daytona — or either of NASCAR’s two superspeedways, for that matter. Over a combined 33 Cup starts at Daytona and Talladega, the now-Hendrick Motorsports driver is shockingly winless.

Not only that, but Larson has never even finished in the top five in his 17 points races at Daytona. Given that Larson qualified second and will start on the outside of Row 1 on Sunday, maybe this weekend will be his big breakthrough, but the 2021 Cup Series champion still has a lot to prove on Daytona’s high banks.

Until that changes, the odds will always be stacked against him when it comes time for NASCAR’s most prestigious race.

Christopher Bell

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After finishing the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season on a roll that culminated in his first Championship 4 appearance and a career-best third-place points finish, Christopher Bell enters 2023 facing higher expectations than ever.

Those expectations don’t include anything too great from him at the Daytona 500, however. That’s because Bell hasn’t posted a top-10 finish in six Daytona starts — four of which have resulted in DNFs.

While an improvement isn’t out of the question for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver on Sunday, it seems hard to imagine Bell making the quantum leap that would be required for him to go to Victory Lane at Daytona — where his best finish is a 13th-place outcome in August 2020 during his one-year stint with since disbanded Leavine Family Racing.