Five Hottest NASCAR Drivers | Bonehead Picks

Five Hottest NASCAR Drivers After The Daytona 500

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With the sudden SEC news finally out of the way, I can now focus on who were the best drivers even after the crash fiasco during the 59th Daytona 500. The new stage segments will help me determine more on who goes on this week’s list even if they crash out. The new five minute repair rule shouldn’t be used to judge how a driver performs and with a restrictor plate race like Daytona, exceptions can be made. Stage and playoff points will help me filter through week one.

  1. Kurt Busch: So you only led the final lap of the Daytona 500? Winning the Great American Race puts you in a hot streak no matter what. In addition to the 56 points accumulated after the race, Kurt picked up eight points in Stage Two along with the five playoff points. With a new manufacture (old if you count Roush Fenway), winning the Daytona 500 for Stewart-Haas Racing is a positive direction heading towards Atlanta.
  2. Kevin Harvick: If not for the “Big One” on the third and final stage, the 2014 Monster Energy champ may have been a heavy contender at the very end. Even when gaining 19 points in two stages and led 50 laps (most), Harvick was caught up in what was possibly the largest Daytona “Big One” in recent memory. But with the repair rule, there wasn’t any time to get back on track. Even with the multi-car pileups, Harvick has still managed to start off fourth in points thanks to the new format.
  3. Kyle Busch: Possibly another heavy hitter in line to win his first Daytona 500 if not for a blown tire. Winning the first stage keeps him in the conversation but not in the Top 16 for the playoffs. A rear tire blew out and took out six cars in what was considered the first “Big One” including leader at the time Dale Earnhardt Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota may have had another strong run to start the season if not for that unfortunate event. After the mishap, Kyle went to blame Goodyear for it.
  4. Ryan Blaney: Nine points in two segments to go along with a runner-up finish in the Great American Race has to be huge for Wood Brothers Racing. The former Rookie of the Year runner-up didn’t hold back throughout the entire race and was hopeful to help WBR win their second Daytona 500 in six years (Trevor Bayne won in 2011). If all goes well for the single car team, there won’t be any sophomore slump since the next generation of young guns are now on the rise.

  5. Chase Elliott: Like Blaney, the next generation is about to make a statement in 2017, winning the Daytona 500 pole and the second Can-Am Duel was a huge start, but not the ending the former Rookie of the Year hoped for. Elliott looked well on his way to winning his first and the biggest race of his career before he ran out of gas. Even leading with 39 laps (second most) and a 14th place finish, Elliott is eighth in points. He and Kasey Kahne (seventh place finish) were the only Hendrick drivers able to finish without incident.

Even with a fourth place finish at Daytona, number 43 crew chief Drew Blickensderfer was fined $10,000 for improper lug nuts. The lug nut violations do not affect the points accumulated by Aric Almirola, who is currently sixth in points. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series now heads north to Atlanta for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

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