Driver Handicaps: Daytona

Daytona

Matt Kenseth leads the pack in the last two races at Daytona with a 1.5 average finish. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Who's HOT at Daytona
• Matt Kenseth has finished second and first, respectively, in his last two starts.
• Kyle Busch, who won the 2008 July race, has led the most laps (246) in the nine races with the COT chassis.
• Three-time July winner Tony Stewart leads all drivers with 643 laps led.
• Carl Edwards has finished ninth or better in seven of his last 10 starts.
• Two-time winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished in the top five in three of his last five starts.
• Kevin Harvick has finished in the top 10 in four of his last five starts, including a win in the 2010 July race.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers with six wins.

Keep an Eye On at Daytona 
• Greg Biffle (4.0), Jeff Burton (7.5), Clint Bowyer (8.5) each have posted average finishes of 10.0 or better in the two restrictor-plate races this year.
• Paul Menard has finished ninth or better in his last three Daytona starts.
• Denny Hamlin led the most laps in this year's Daytona 500 (57) en route to a fourth-place finish.
• Kurt Busch has posted a 12.0 average finish in the nine Daytona races with the COT chassis.
• Jimmie Johnson has posted the best average finish (5.0) in the last four races of the season.
• Joey Logano has finished in the top 10 in his last two Daytona starts.
• Some of the part-time notables entered in the race: 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, three-time Daytona winner Michael Waltrip and four-time Daytona winner Bill Elliott, who is driving a Turner Motorsports Chevrolet.
• Along with Kenseth, Jamie McMurray is the only other multiple winner in the last 10 Daytona races.

Daytona Qualifying Facts

*Active Pole Leaders
*Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Bill Elliott - 5
1. Jimmie Johnson - 9.3
Pole - 25 times
2. Jeff Gordon - 3
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 10.3
Top Five - 71  times
3. Jimmie Johnson - 2
3. Tony Stewart - 10.4
Top 10 - 102 times
Bobby Labonte - 2 4. Jeff Gordon - 10.6
Top 15  - 118 times
5. 10 drivers with 1 5. Kyle Busch - 13.7
Worst - 39th, one time

* - Must be entered in the Coke Zero 400.

*Best Average Finish at Daytona

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Matt Kenseth
1.5
Four Races
Paul Menard
10.2
Six Races
Carl Edwards
11.0
Eight Races
Matt Kenseth
9.0
10 Races
Carl Edwards
10.9

* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Daytona Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2012)

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jeff Burton
1. Kurt Busch
1. Kyle Busch - 12.4
2. Tony Stewart
2. Landon Cassill
2. Tony Stewart - 13.5
3. Clint Bowyer
3. Jeff Burton
3. Jimmie Johnson - 14.9
4. Kyle Busch
4. Denny Hamlin
4. Matt Kenseth - 14.9
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 14.8
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Kyle Busch - 1932
1. Kyle Busch - 2098
1. Kyle Busch - 97.5
2. Tony Stewart - 1760
2. Carl Edwards - 2042
2. Tony Stewart - 97.1
3. Kurt Busch - 1693
3. Kurt Busch - 1927
3. Kurt Busch - 91.4
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1674
4. Jeff Burton - 1912
4. Matt Kenseth - 89.8
5. Matt Kenseth - 1656
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1910
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 88.0

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


For a look at all the pre-race Loop Data for Daytona download the Coke Zero 400 Pre-Race eBook by clicking here.

Season Loop Data Leaders

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Matt Kenseth - 8.5
2. Kyle Busch
2. Kasey Kahne
2. Greg Biffle - 8.7
3. Mark Martin
3. Jeff Gordon
3. Jimmie Johnson - 9.9
4. Tony Stewart
4. Matt Kenseth
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 9.9
5. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Denny Hamlin - 10.8
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Matt Kenseth - 4426
1. Brad Keselowski - 1105
1. Jimmie Johnson - 108.8
2. Jimmie Johnson - 4243
2. Kyle Busch - 987
2. Matt Kenseth - 104.6
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 4170
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 977
3. Greg Biffle - 104.5
4. Greg Biffle - 4103
4. Matt Kenseth - 929
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 101.4
5. Martin Truex Jr. - 4016
5. Greg Biffle - 924
5. Denny Hamlin - 98.5

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.  
Pete Pistone: Jimmie Johnson 
Ricky Hamber: Matt Kenseth
John Singler: Kevin Harvick

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Daytona unless noted)

Matt Kenseth: Has finished second and first, respectively, in last two starts; Only driver to lead more than 100 laps (166) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Sixth-best average finish (12.0) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 793) that he finished third with at Talladega Superspeedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Leads all drivers with a 14.5 average finish; Has finished in the top five in three of the last five races; Fifth-best average finish (11.8) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 699) that he finished second with in the Daytona 500.

Jimmie Johnson: Last of nine top 10s came in this event in 2009; Has finished 20th or worse in last five starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 698) that he finished 35th at Talladega Superspeedway after an engine issue.

Greg Biffle: Coming off fifth top 10 (third) in 19 starts; Winner of the 2003 July race; Best average finish (9.4) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 781) that he last finished fifth with at Talladega Superspeedway.

Denny Hamlin: Coming off second top 10 (fourth) in 13 starts; Seventh-best average finish (14.2) and second in laps led (69) in the last five restrictor-plate races.

Kevin Harvick: Third in average finish (15.0); Has posted five top 10s, including one win, in the last seven races; 10th-best average finish (15.2) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 295) that he won the 2010 Coke Zero with and finished 22nd with in this year's Budweiser Shootout.

Clint Bowyer: Second in average finish (14.8); Last of six top 10s came in the 2010 Daytona 500; Finished 11th in first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in February; Fourth-best average finish (11.2) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 679) that he finished sixth with at Talladega Superspeedway.

Martin Truex Jr: 21.4 average finish in five starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Only top 10 in 14 starts came in the 2010 Daytona 500 in sixth.

Tony Stewart: Three-time winner of the July race; Has posted a 17.4 average finish in last five starts; Leads all drivers in laps led with 643; Ninth-best average finish (15.0) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 565) that he finished 16th with in the Daytona 500.

Brad Keselowski: 27.7 average finish in six starts; Best finish came in this event last year in 15th; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 631) in the Coke Zero 400.

Carl Edwards: Coming off seventh top 10 (eighth) in 15 starts; Has finished ninth or better in seven of his last 10 starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 792) in the Coke Zero 400.

Kyle Busch: Winner of the 2008 July race; Last of six top 10s came in this event last year in fifth; Fourth among active full-time drivers in laps led (275).

Paul Menard: Has finished ninth or better in last three starts; Third-best average finish (11.0) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 388) that he last finished 17th with at Talladega Superspeedway after getting caught up in a multi-car accident.

Kasey Kahne: Finished 29th in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports after being involved in an incident; Last of six top 10s came in this event last year; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 703) that he finished fourth with at Talladega Superspeedway.

Ryan Newman: Has yet to finish inside the top 20 since winning the 2008 Daytona 500; Led 25 laps and finished 23rd in this event last year; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 606) that he finished 36th with at Talladega Superspeedway after the engine expired.

Joey Logano: Has finished in the top 10 in his last two starts; Eighth-best average finish (14.4) in the last five restrictor-plate races.

Marcos Ambrose: Only top 10 in seven starts came in this event in 2009 in sixth; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 795) that he finished 13th and 14th, respectively, in both restrictor-plate races this season.

Jeff Gordon: Leads all drivers with six wins; Last win in the July race came in 2004; Last of 19 top 10s came in this event last year in sixth.

Jamie McMurray: Two-time winner; Won the 2007 July race with Roush Racing; 22.2 average finish in five starts with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1204) that he finished 31st with in the Daytona 500 after being involved in a late-race incident.

Jeff Burton: Coming off 10th top 10 in 37 starts; Last top 10 in the July race came in 2010 in fifth; Second-best average finish (10.8) in the last five restrictor-plate races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 343) that he last finished 10th with at Talladega Superspeedway.

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