There’s a certain stigma surrounding NASCAR superspeedway racing these days. “It’s a crapshoot,” is one I hear often. “It’s all about luck,” is another.
Well, yes. Kind of.
Superspeedway racing, formerly known as restrictor plate racing, is the most difficult discipline to predict and it isn’t all that close. The Daytona 500 typically comes down to about 15 cars running at the end, with about half of those simply trying to limp home with a top ten finish. Winning at Daytona or Talladega means simply surviving until the end. While that may seem difficult to project, there are a few drivers that stand out.
The best, according to the numbers
Aric Almirola leads the way with an average finish of 10th over the last three seasons of superspeedway racing. Outside of a 32nd (2019 Daytona 500) and a 27th (2018 Coke Zero 400), Almirola has finished better than 11th nine other races during that span.
The only driver that comes close to that mark is fellow Ford driver Ryan Newman, who boasts an average finish of 11th during that same span. Eight top ten finishes power Newman to the No. 2 spot in these rankings as the veteran wheelman has shown an incredible ability to stay out of trouble.
Next up is probably the consensus best superspeedway driver since Dale Earnhardt Jr. retired, Joey Logano. He has only one win in the last three seasons, but runs more consistently inside of the top five than anyone. He has a 50 percent top five finish rate over the last three years on superspeedways, with his average being pulled down by three finishes outside of the top 30. Even with those on his resume, Logano sits 3rd on this list.
There’s a logjam for the No. 4 spot, which is split four ways. One name won’t surprise you, but the other three probably will.
Denny Hamlin is a part of this group tied for 4th, with an average finish of 15th. The two-time Daytona 500 winner has always been good at this style of racing, seemingly always in contention for wins, but doing it in more of a boom-or-bust style.
Ricky Stenhouse, Ryan Preece and Ty Dillon each share a spot with Hamlin, averaging a 15th place finish over the last three years. Obviously, Preece comes with a bit of an asterisk, with just one season under his belt. But you can’t ignore his two top ten finishes as a rookie.
Stenhouse’s style has been well documented through the years. His aggression is unmatched, which has resulted in the only two wins of his career. That aggression hasn’t made him many friends, however. It’s also ended several bids for solid finishes.
And then we have Ty Dillon, who is just as steady as they come. The younger Dillon brother has finished 10 of 12 races in this span inside of the top 17. That includes four top ten finishes against just two wrecks.
The worst, according to the numbers
- Martin Truex Jr. never really has figured out Daytona or Talladega in the Cup Series. Outside of one second place finish to Erik Jones at Daytona, Truex doesn’t have a top ten finish in the last three years. His best? A 13th.
Average Finish: 23rd
- Kevin Harvick has just one top five in 12 attempts. Outside of that, he doesn’t have a finish better than 17th.
Average Finish: 24th
- Brad Keselowski is one of the better superspeedway drivers we have today, but his latest results don’t support that. Brad won at Talladega in 2017, but has just one top ten in the rest of his attempts.
Average Finish: 24th
- Daniel Suarez has exactly one top ten finish during this time period — a 10th place finish in 2018 at Talladega
Average Finish: 25th