Looking for Daytona pre-race favorite? Check out ‘The Great Eight’

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway for this Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400, who ranks as the pre-race favorite.

Well, as in all restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway where virtually anything can happen and on any given day anyone can win, it’s hard to say.

But you can start by breaking down the list of active drivers with the most career wins as the two superspeedways. You can call them "The Great Eight" and here they are:

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8. Clint Bowyer, 2 wins, 0 at Daytona. Bowyer’s two restrictor-plate triumphs both came at Talladega, and he’s not having a good year in his lame-duck season at HScott Motorsports before moving on to replace the retiring Tony Stewart in the No. 14 car at Stewart-Haas Racing. But one great night under the lights at Daytona could change all that.

5. (tie) Brad Keselowski, 3 wins, 0 at Daytona. Like Bowyer, all of BK’s superspeedway wins have come on the 2.66-mile ‘Dega track. He’s never finished better than eighth in the July race at Daytona, and has an average finish of 27.0 in his last four starts overall at the 2.5-mile track.

5. (tie) Matt Kenseth, 3 wins, 2 at Daytona. Kenseth has won the Daytona 500 twice. He’s never won the July Daytona race. Since 2013, he’s usually struggled at DIS no matter when the race was held — with five finishes of 20th or worse in his last seven starts.

5. (tie) Kevin Harvick, 3 wins, 2 at Daytona. Harvick won the Daytona 500 in 2007 and the July race in 2010, both while he was still piloting the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. But he’s come very, very close to winning again since moving over to the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy, finishing second in the 2015 Daytona 500, fourth in last year’s July race and fourth again earlier this year in the 500.

4. Jamie McMurray, 4 wins, 2 at Daytona. McMurray has won twice each at Daytona and ‘Dega. But it’s been a while since he’s been much of a factor at Daytona, with his seventh-place finish in the 2013 July race being his only top-10 finish at the track since he won the Daytona 500 for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2010 — a span of 12 starts.

2. (tie) Jimmie Johnson, 5 wins, 3 at Daytona. Johnson swept the two Daytona races in 2013, becoming the first driver to do so in a single season since Hall of Famer Bobby Allison accomplished it in 1982. And only three other drivers — Fireball Roberts, Cale Yarborough and LeeRoy Yarbrough — have ever done it. Two of them, Roberts and Yarborough, are also in the Hall of Fame.

2. (tie) Tony Stewart, 5 wins, 4 at Daytona. Although he’s never won the Daytona 500, Stewart has owned the July Daytona race, winning it a total of four times. The last time was in 2012, but Stewart is carrying lots of momentum into this race after winning for the first time in more than two years last Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 10 wins, 4 at Daytona. No active driver is even close to his career numbers on the restrictor-plate tracks, and he’s the defending winner in this July race. Plus Junior is overdue for a win. No doubt he heads into the weekend as the prohibitive pre-race favorite.

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