September 21, 2023
Daytona 500: This is what to know when the inexperienced flag drops

A heat, partly cloudy day in anticipated at Daytona Seashore as followers within the stands are set to see intense racing, with slingshot passing and multicar wipeouts all at speeds in extra of 190 mph.

This is what it is advisable know earlier than this 12 months’s version of “The Nice American Race,” which begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

The character of racing alongside the excessive banks of Daytona Worldwide Speedway, with the sector usually bunched in a pack and bump-drafting their method to the entrance, means virtually each automotive has a possibility to win the 200-lap occasion — from prestigious, title-winning groups to fledgling outfits attempting to claw their manner into the game.

And within the final two years, the winners of the Daytona 500 had been drivers who had by no means visited Victory Lane.

Michael McDowell, who had spent a lot of his profession driving for lesser-funded groups, was on the proper place on the proper time in 2021, skirting previous a last-lap crash to take his first ever win.
Final 12 months, Austin Cindric, who was starting his first full season in NASCAR’s high division, efficiently blocked a swarm of opponents on the ultimate lap to hold on to victory.
Whereas many on this 12 months’s subject need to choose up their first Daytona win — and even their first profession win — some opponents are new to NASCAR solely. X-Video games star and stunt driver Travis Pastrana can be making his Daytona 500 debut, and IndyCar driver Conor Daly will sq. off in a Chevrolet owned by boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.

New names in new rides

Kyle Busch makes a pit stop during the second of two qualifying auto races Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The most important story this offseason was the departure of Kyle Busch from the Toyota workforce owned by famed NFL coach Joe Gibbs, with whom Busch gained two Cup sequence championships. Busch, whose outspoken character has polarized a lot of the fan base for years, will line up within the No. 8 Chevrolet.

Busch takes the seat vacated by California native Tyler Reddick, who will now pilot the No. 45 Toyota co-owned by competitor Denny Hamlin and NBA icon Michael Jordan.
Reddick will workforce up with Bubba Wallace, who has completed runner-up twice within the 500, together with final 12 months.
Busch’s substitute at Joe Gibbs Racing is newcomer Ty Gibbs, Joe’s grandson. Final November, Ty gained the championship of the Xfinity Collection, NASCAR’s second division, however any celebrations had been tempered because the household suffered the tragic lack of Coy Gibbs — Ty’s father and Joe’s son — who died hours after the season finale. Ty will begin the five hundred within the No. 54 Toyota.
Sunday additionally sees the return of one in all NASCAR’s most profitable drivers, Jimmie Johnson, who will race a partial schedule this season after stepping away in 2020.

Final 12 months’s entrance row does it once more

Alex Bowman drives out of turn four during qualifying for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, at Daytona International Speedway.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman had been the quickest qualifiers in final 12 months’s version, with Larson turning the quickest lap to assert the pole.

And a brand new season brings extra of the identical — on Wednesday, it was Bowman who certified with a median lap pace of 181.686 mph, adequate for his third profession 500 pole, with Larson turning the second-best lap amongst opponents.

Nonetheless, beginning up entrance would not assure a high end, as no pole-winning driver has taken the checkered flag in first place since 2000. Larson and Bowman had been each concerned in accidents final 12 months and completed close to the again.

Qualifying warmth races had been held Thursday evening to find out the remainder of the grid’s beginning order. Defending Cup champion Joey Logano and native Floridian Aric Almirola every gained their respective races and can begin on the second row.

A chapter closes

Dale Earnhardt victorious in victory lane after winning the 1998 Daytona 500.
Sunday’s race will mark 25 years since probably the most well-known victories in auto racing historical past, when seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt claimed his first and solely Daytona 500 in 1998 — his twentieth profession try.

Three years later, Earnhardt died in a last-lap crash on the 2001 Daytona 500.

As the game mourned the lack of one in all its best drivers, Earnhardt’s workforce repainted and renumbered his famed black No. 3 Chevrolet to a white No. 29 and added Kevin Harvick as their new driver, an up-and-comer in NASCAR’s decrease divisions.

Harvick, who had by no means beforehand raced within the Cup sequence, would earn an emotional win three weeks later at Atlanta in a photograph end. And a miniature ‘3’ would stay on the automotive’s paint scheme for years, paying tribute to Earnhardt.

Now a former Daytona 500 winner and sequence champion, Harvick will retire on the finish of 2023, leaving just one lively driver on the circuit who has raced for the reason that 2001 season — fellow former champion and 500 winner Kurt Busch, who has not competed since July after being injured in a qualifying crash at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.

Harvick begins thirteenth on Sunday within the No. 4 Ford, a experience co-owned by Components One workforce boss Gene Haas and Cup champion Tony Stewart. The acquainted No. 3 Chevrolet will be seen pushed by Austin Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress — Earnhardt’s automotive proprietor.