The Daytona 500 is one of the most famous motor races in the world and one of the most demanding races on the racing calendar. The 2022 edition takes place at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida on February 20 and sees 44 cars take to the track in the ultimate test of endurance: 500 miles of high octane action.
You have to go back to 1959 for the first Daytona 500. Lee Petty won the inaugural event, defeating Johnny Beauchamp in a thrilling race. Only 12 drivers have won the Daytona 500 more than once, and Denny Hamlin is one of those in the elite category. Hamlin won the race in 2016, 2019, and again in 2020 and is the favorite to win this year’s race in the latest NASCAR betting markets online.
Forty-one-year-old Hamlin is a NASCAR superstar, a top-tier driver who is closing in on 750 professional races over his 17-year career. He has 46 victories, 305 top-ten finishes, and has started in pole position 33 times across 578 races in the NASCAR Cup Series. Hamlin also has 17 wins, 100 top tens, and 21 poles from 163 races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Few drivers can match Hamlin’s impressive statistics over such a long period of time.
Hamlin’s Incredible Dayton 500 Record
Hamlin first drove in the world-famous Daytona 500 in 2006 when Chevrolet engines powered his Joe Gibbs Racing car. He finished 30th after starting in 17th and followed that up with a 28th place finish in 2007.
Joe Gibbs Racing switched to Toyota running gear from 2008 onwards, which made Hamlin more competitive. He enjoyed his first Daytona 500 top ten in 2012 when he finished fourth despite starting 31st on the grid. Hamlin came agonizingly close to victory in 2014 but ultimately finished in second place, only 0.092 seconds behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. He finished fourth in 2015 before securing his maiden win in 2016 after he led the race for 95 of the 200 laps.
An uncharacteristic 17th place finish in 2017 was followed up by a third-place finish in 2018. Hamlin then went on to win back-to-back Daytona 500s in 2019 and 2020 before finishing fifth in last year’s race. It is easy to see why bookmakers fancy Hamlin’s chances in 2022. Should Hamlin win the 2022 Daytona 500, he will join Cale Yarborough as only the third man in history to win the historic race at least four times.
Who Is Most Likely To Finish Ahead of Hamlin at the 2022 Daytona 500?
Although Hamlin is the clear favorite for Daytona 500 glory in 2022, some superb drivers will go all-out to stop Hamlin from winning his fourth Daytona 500 title.
Reigning champion Michael McDowell of Front Row Motorsports will fancy his chances of a repeat performance, although racing aficionados do not share the Arizona man’s confidence one iota. McDowell’s victory was only the third time he navigated his way into the top ten finishing positions.
Chase Elliott is the current second-favorite for Daytona 500 glory in 2022. Elliott is one of the younger drivers in this race, aged only 26-years-old. You may recall Elliott finished in second place in 2021 and will undoubtedly have learned from the experience.
In addition, you cannot write off the chances of Kyle Larson. Larson has four top-ten finishes from eight Daytona 500 races, including a tenth-place finish in 2021, his first Daytona 500 for Hendrick Motorsports. Having had another 12-months with the team and car, we expect Larson to be there or thereabouts when the chequered flag is waved at the end of the 500-mile contest.