The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season officially kicks off tonight with the running of the Sprint Unlimited (8 p.m. ET, FOX) at the newly renovated Daytona International Speedway.
As always, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be a threat to win and so will Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth, among others. But right now, the car to beat looks like the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin.
Here are three reasons why Hamlin will win Saturday night:
Momentum. Joe Gibbs Racing is coming off its best season ever, winning the 2015 Sprint Cup title with Kyle Busch and putting all four of its cars into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Right now, JGR is at the top of its game and has everything going in its favor.
This race. For whatever reason, the Sprint Unlimited is a race that suits Hamlin’s style and Daytona is a track he’s good at. In 2006, when Hamlin was a rookie, he won this race in his first attempt. He won it again in 2014 from the pole, dominating the race.
Speed. At Daytona, what you roll off the truck with is pretty much what you’ve got. You either have a fast car when you hit the track or you don’t. Hamlin has a very fast JGR Toyota. He was third in Friday’s opening Sprint Unlimited practice and fastest in Happy Hour. And he was the only driver in the top three in both practices.