It’s been more than two decades since a driver won the Daytona 500 two consecutive years. Sterling Marlin accomplished the feat in 1994-95.
Denny Hamlin is the man who has the opportunity to do it this time around. Hamlin won a thrilling race a year ago, edging out Martin Truex Jr. by .010 seconds – the closest finish in the history of NASCAR’s signature race.
Hamlin is known as one of the better restrictor-plate racers in the garage and is in good position after qualifying fourth. But he understands the challenge of doing it two years in a row.
“The odds are stacked against you,” Hamlin said. “Daytona, we all know that the entire field could win the race. We’ve seen very unexpected winners in the past. It’s just because, you know, there’s a lot of attrition, a lot of things that can happen.
“There’s just more drivers that can win this week than what could in, say, Atlanta next week. So that makes it very, very hard to repeat. That’s why you’ve seen just a few drivers do it.”