DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Ryan Newman, driver of the #12 Alltel Dodge, crosses the finish line to win the 50th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500, ahead of teammate Kurt Busch, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2008 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Cup Champions Desperate For Daytona 500 Win

Entering the 66th running of the Daytona 500, there are six NASCAR Cup Series champions without a Harley J. Earl trophy in their possession. Those six drivers are Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney.

The Daytona 500 is the "Super Bowl" of NASCAR. This is the biggest race a driver can win in NASCAR outside of winning the final race for the championship at Phoenix Raceway. For those six champions, this is the biggest race left to win on their resumes.

Here is how each of these drivers have fared in their careers in "The Great American Race."

Brad Keselowski

This is the most surprising name on this list. Keselowski is known to be one of the best superspeedway drivers in the sport. He has seven wins at superspeedways in his Cup Series career (6 at Talladega, 1 at Daytona).

The 2012 Cup Series champion has come close to winning the Daytona 500. On the final lap of the 2021 Daytona 500, Keselowski was in 2nd before contact with Joey Logano took Keselowski out of a chance to win. He has two top 5 finishes with a career best finish of 3rd in "The Great American Race."

Out of the six drivers here, Keselowski has the most wins at superspeedways, so expect him to have a good chance to get his first Daytona 500 victory on Sunday.

Kyle Busch

The only active two-time Cup Series champion without a Daytona 500 victory is Kyle Busch. Busch has three wins on superspeedways (2 at Talladega, 1 at Daytona). Along with that, Busch has three top 5s with a best finish of 2nd in 2019.

Busch has made it well known that he was leading after 500 miles in last year's Daytona 500. The race went to overtime and did not go in Busch's favor.

The numbers may be on Busch's side though. This will be his 20th year going to Daytona in February. Dale Earnhardt went to Daytona in February for the 20th time in 1998 and finally scored his Daytona 500 victory. 20 years after Earnhardt won the Daytona 500, Austin Dillon took the No. 3 car to victory lane. Now, Busch is driving for Richard Childress Racing like Earnhardt did, so the numbers could line up for Busch to get his first Harley J. Earl Trophy.

Martin Truex Jr.

Truex is the driver in Daytona 500 history to come the closest to winning the race. In 2016, he finished second, 0.010 seconds behind race winner Denny Hamlin.

The 2017 champion has never won a superspeedway race in his Cup Series career. Outside of the 2016 Daytona 500, Truex hasn't been a major factor in the superspeedway races. This hasn't deterred Truex from wanting to win the Daytona 500.

"I mean obviously I want it, it'd be great, it'd be amazing," Truex said. "I don't know if I'd be completely disappointed with my career as a whole if someday when I retire and I look back and I'm like, 'Ah, I didn't win that race.' I don't know if that is a big deal to me or not, I think I still have opportunities to get it done, so I try not to think about it. But it'd be huge, be huge to win for sure."

The new body for the Toyota's could be a benefit for Truex in his hopes to winning "The Great American Race," but out of the six drivers on the list, Truex might have the longest shot at getting the win on Sunday.

Chase Elliott

NASCAR's most popular driver is still in search of his first Daytona 500 victory. Elliott has one top 5 in the Daytona 500 and that came in 2021 where he finished 2nd to winner Michael McDowell.

The 2020 champion was leading the 2017 Daytona 500 with less than 5 laps to go before running out of fuel, so Elliott has experience running up front towards the end of the Daytona 500.

It would be a very popular win if Elliott could get the victory and it is very possible it could happen on Sunday.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson has said he is not the biggest fan of superspeedway races. It seems like every year Larson finds himself in the infield care center at Daytona International Speedway.

Just like Truex, Larson has never won at a superspeedway. Larson has never finished in the top 5 in the Daytona 500, but he did lead coming to the white flag in the 2017 Daytona 500 before running out of fuel on the last lap.

The 2021 champion has been in contention at Daytona before so if he stays out of trouble, he will have a chance to get that elusive Daytona 500 victory on Sunday.

Ryan Blaney

The newest champion of the sport has yet to win the Daytona 500. This isn't because of a lack of skill behind the wheel. Blaney has two second place finishes in the Daytona 500 (2020, 2022).

Blaney is looking to become the first driver to win the Daytona 500 the year after winning the championship since Dale Jarrett won the race in 2000 after winning the 1999 Cup Series championship.

Blaney has become a top threat at the superspeedways with three wins at Talladega Superspeedway. Blaney has been in second place coming off turn 4 looking at the checkered flag twice in the Daytona 500, but he has yet to find a way to make that final pass to hoist the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

If Blaney is up towards the front of the field at the end of the race Sunday, he will make the right moves to give himself a shot at winning "The Great American Race."

These six NASCAR champions will look to win their first Daytona 500 this Sunday Feb. 18 at 2:30p.m. EST.

More: Martin Truex Jr. Craves Daytona 500 Win More Than Ever