Denny Hamlin remains the only driver to advance to the final round of qualification in every NASCAR race this year. He qualified ninth for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
This is a good starting position for the winner of the 2016 Daytona 500. No one has swept Victory Lane on this track since Johnson did so in 2013, but Hamlin has a good shot at putting his name in that record book.
Greg Biffle posted a lap of 192.955 mph to win the pole for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
This is the feel-good story of Friday afternoon, but it is unlikely Biffle will remain in the lead pack for long in race trim. He will cost fantasy owners place-differential points and should be avoided in games that offer them.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. posted a lap of 192.320 mph in the final round of qualification for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway and will line up fourth on the grid—his career best start on this track.
Stenhouse has one previous top-10 finish at Daytona, but that came after he started 34th on the grid. He also has a previous top-10 start that ended in an 11th in this race in 2013.
As an open driver, Ryan Blaney needed to make the Coke Zero 400 on time. He did so with a lot of miles per hour in the bank, advancing to the final 12 and qualifying 12th with a lap of 191.253 mph.
Blaney is still a rookie, however, and as such he is unpredictable in race trim. Start him at your own risk.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. notably failed to advance to the final round of qualification for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. His lap of 191.071 mph was good enough for only 16th on the grid.
This is the first time in six races that Junior has failed to qualify on one of the first five rows. The last time he started outside the top 10 came in the 2013 edition of this race. He started 16th en route to an eighth-place finish.
Josh Wise was the slowest of the open drivers at Daytona International Speedway and will not start the Coke Zero 400. His lap of 184.106 mph was the slowest of the drivers who took a timed lap.
NASCAR has not had more than 40 drivers most weeks in 2016 so this is unaccustomed territory. Make certain Wise was not your dark horse of choice.
Matt DiBenedetto has made five starts on restrictor-plate, superspeedways at the Cup level and has had problems in four of those events. He suffered crash damage in the 2015 Geico 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway, had fuel problems later that fall, crashed at Daytona International Speedway this spring, and blew an engine at Talladega in May.
The only race in which DiBenedetto did not struggle was last year’s Coke Zero 400. He finished 26th after starting 41st. Last May he scored his career best plate result, however, with an 18th at ‘Dega despite having a damaged car.
Jamie McMurray won the 2013 Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway and then went nine races without another top-10 finish on a restrictor-plate, superspeedway until this May’s fourth in the Geico 500. Fantasy owners are interested in whether he will keep that momentum at Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero 400.
The last time McMurray was at the top of the order, he scored back-to-back top-10s at Daytona and Talladega. In fact, all but one of his 13 career top-10s on this track type came as back-to-back successes.