Can Chevrolet win before NASCAR returns to Daytona?

Chevrolet won the Daytona 500 to open the season. Since then, they have yet to find victory lane. Will they find victory lane again before the series returns to Daytona?

Chevrolet debuted of the Camaro ZL1 in the Daytona 500 ended with a trip to victory lane thanks to Austin Dillon. Since the opening race of the season, however, Chevrolet has not visited victory lane again.

With four races remaining before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Daytona for a second visit, there’s a chance Chevrolet will only have one win to show for.

That would be unprecedented for Chevrolet has a manufacturer in NASCAR during the last thirty years.

In 1992, Chevrolet had just two wins before the second race at Daytona. They would pick up their third win of the season at Daytona before finishing with a total of eight wins.

The most recent time Chevrolet faced such a dearth of wins this early in the season was in 2002. Chevrolet had three wins before the second race at Daytona. Michael Waltrip would win the July race at Daytona for Chevrolet’s fourth of ten wins that season.

A slow start to the season is nothing new for manufacturers. But with the real possibility of only one win for Chevrolet, a manufacturer with 39 championships to the Chevrolet brand and 43 in total under General Motors, that would be unheard of.

So what is the likelihood Chevrolet could go 1-17 before the green flag waves at Daytona? Let’s break it down.

Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott have been in contention for wins this season but haven’t broken through yet. (©John Harrelson / NKP)

Pocono Raceway

Background: It is difficult to gauge how competitive the Chevrolet camp will be at Pocono Raceway since there is no direct comparison so far. It’s worth noting this past weekend at Charlotte was only the second time this season Chevrolet had more than two cars finish inside the top-10 on a track other than a superspeedway or short track.

Outlook: Looking at the past three races at Pocono Raceway, no Chevrolet driver has a better average finish 15.3, which belongs to Kyle Larson. That ranks 12th best among active drivers. In both races last year at Pocono, there were only three top-10 finishes by a Chevrolet.

Chance of winning: 15%. It could be lower, but when visiting Pocono Raceway, it would be foolish not to take into account a fuel mileage or rain-shortened race. Based on speed alone, it would be hard to predict Kyle Larson outperforming Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick.

Chevrolet drivers Ryan Newman, Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon and Kyle Larson have all had different starts to the 2018 season. (©Matt Thacker / NKP)

Michigan International Speedway

Background:  When the NASCAR Cup Series raced at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year, Chevrolet placed three cars inside the top-10. Kyle Larson, a winner at Auto Club Speedway, finished second to Martin Truex Jr.

Outlook: Kyle Larson is on current three-race winning streak at Michigan International Speedway. During that stretch, he’s led a series high 139 laps. In fact, three of the best average finishes at Michigan in the last three races belong to Larson, Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray. Jimmie Johnson is also one of only eight drivers to have two or more top-10 finishes during that stretch.

Chance of winning: 60%. This will be Chevrolet’s best chance to find victory lane before the series reaches Daytona. Larson and Elliott could both be threats to win and McMurray and Johnson should do enough to hang around inside the top-10 and possibly have a shot.

A.J. Allmendinger and Kasey Kahne have both won on road courses before.(©John Harrelson / NKP)

Sonoma Raceway

Outlook:  Sonoma Raceway is one of two road courses on the schedule and the first visit to a track featuring right turns this season. Road courses tend to provide unpredictability, much like superspeedways and short tracks. That could play into the favor of Chevrolet drivers.

Statistics: Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson have the best average finish, 10.7, among Chevrolet drivers at Sonoma Raceway in the last three races. Jamie McMurray also has an average finish that ranks him inside the top-10 among active drivers.

Chance of winning: 15%. Anything can happen on a road course. Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne have both won at Sonoma Raceway, but that came in 2010 and 2009 respectively. Let’s not forget A.J. Allmendinger, who has come close to winning at Sonoma in the past and has a victory to his name at Watkins Glen.

(©Nigel Kinrade / NKP)

Chicagoland Speedway

Outlook:  The race at Chicagoland Speedway will be the sixth of 11 races on a 1.5-mile speedway, or intermediate track, this season. In the five previous races at 1.5-mile speedways this season, Larson has been the strongest Chevrolet finishing inside the top-10 in four of the five races. The rest of the Chevrolet bunch has been scattered throughout with no real consistency across the tracks.

Statistics: Chase Elliott has the best average finish, 2.5, among all drivers at Chicagoland Speedway in the last three races. Kyle Larson and Jimmie Johnson also find themselves with average finishes hovering around 10th place.

Chance of winning:  10%. There is a very real chance that Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott make this percentage look foolish. However, given the dominance by Toyota and Ford on the rest of the 1.5-mile speedways this year, that number seems accurate.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattlovisa.

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