Earnhardt Jr. projected to win Daytona 500

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is projected to win at Daytona Sunday.Here are the projections for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 2.5-mile superspeedway) and time of year.

Projected Top 15 at Daytona

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the defending Daytona 500 champion and will now try to become the fourth driver ever (and first in 20 seasons) to win back-to-back Daytona 500s. Junior has finished in the top two in three straight Daytona 500s - his six career top-two finishes in the 500 are tied for third-most all time.

• The 2015 Daytona 500 will be the final one for Jeff Gordon as a full-time Sprint Cup Series driver. He’s a three-time Daytona 500 winner, tied for the third-most all-time. He’s also one of three drivers to win at least three Daytona 500s and three championships, along with Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.

Kevin Harvick broke through and won his first championship last year, and now he’ll look to be the first defending series champion to win the Daytona 500 since Dale Jarrett in 2000. Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 and will try to become the first driver to win a 500 for Stewart-Haas Racing.

• Hendrick Motorsports has won the last two Daytona 500s. Another win this year would make them the first team to win three straight Daytona 500s, and would tie them with Petty Enterprises for the most Daytona 500 wins for a team with nine. The entire Hendrick stable is projected to finish in the top 10 on Sunday.