We’ve turned the final corner of the NASCAR offseason and are finally ready to commence the 2020 campaign. The last two weeks have given us a taste of what’s to come this year as we got to see qualifying and the Busch Clash last Sunday, and then the Gander RV Duels last night.
Between pole qualifying and the duels, the field is set for the 62nd running of the DAYTONA 500. When the green flag drops on Sunday, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will lead the field with Alex Bowman right beside him.
Stenhouse has always been a threat at NASCAR’s superspeedways, although not without controversy. He’s often talked about as a driver who causes some of the big wrecks you see at Daytona International Speedway, and that reputation has made him feared among the garages. It has also made him an instant contender at these types of races and even though he’s now racing for a new team, his pole position makes this week no different.
For Bowman, it is his second consecutive DAYTONA 500 starting on the front row. After collecting his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in 2019, he will look to build on that momentum and become a more consistent driver in 2020. Hendrick Motorsports is relying on young drivers like Bowman, William Byron and Chase Elliott to step up and get the team back to championship form.
There are many other competitors throughout the field that could take home the Harley J. Earl Trophy when it’s all said and done. As is always the case in Daytona, anything could happen, and we got a preview of that with the Busch Clash last weekend.
The Busch Clash turned into a demolition derby as only six cars finished the race after the field originally consisted of 17 drivers. It was Erik Jones who took the checkered flag, but all the storylines were about the big wrecks, which flared up a number of tempers. Everyone from Kyle Busch to Brad Keselowski had plenty of words about what transpired on the track, but one thing is for sure – the fans loved it. The crowd roared with each wreck and it provided plenty of entertainment for everyone that flocked to Daytona in advance of the DAYTONA 500.
And although it was not a points race and it didn’t have a full field of 40 cars, the Busch Clash is likely similar to what we’ll see on Sunday for the DAYTONA 500. Every year, the drama builds as the laps wind down and we start to see drivers get really aggressive in the last 20 laps.
wind down and we start
to see drivers get really aggressive in the last 20 laps.
This is where we start to see the big wrecks as the race tends to stay clean for the first two stages. And when the drivers start being more aggressive, all bets are out the window.
This is what make the DAYTONA 500 one of the most competitive races. Not only has the race produced some of the closest finishes in NASCAR history, it has also evened the playing field and produced a number of surprise winners.
Even for teams such as Premium Motorsports, who typically run toward the back of the field, the DAYTONA 500 is a chance to crack the top-10 and potentially even a win if they can be one of the last cars remaining on the final lap. Some of the biggest surprises we’ve seen in the DAYTONA 500 have included Ward Burton and Trevor Bayne.
While not every finish will be the closest or produce an unexpected winner, the DAYTONA 500 will always bring an electric atmosphere and thrilling racing as the best drivers in the world compete at speeds of over 200 miles per hour around Daytona International Speedway’s 2.5-mile track. Perhaps the most exciting part of the DAYTONA 500 for all of us here in South Florida is that it signifies the beginning of a new NASCAR season, bringing us one step closer to the Dixie Vodka 400 here at Homestead-Miami Speedway, March 22.
NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND
Sunday, February 16 at 2:30 PM (ET)
NASCAR Cup Series DAYTONA 500 at
Daytona International Speedway
Tune In: FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
Saturday, February 15 at 2:30 PM (ET)
NASCAR Xfinity Series NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at
Daytona International Speedway
Tune In: FS1 and
SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
Friday, February 14 at 7:30 PM (ET)
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway
Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
Feb. 16-17 Formula & Automobile Racing Association
Feb. 18 Rusty Wallace Racing Experience
Feb. 23-24 National Auto Sport Association
Mar. 8 Fast Lane Friday
Mar. 22 Fast Lane Friday
Mar. 30 Performance Driving Group
Mar. 31 Florida Track Days
2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
Nov. 15 - Ford EcoBoost 200 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race
Nov. 16 - Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race
Nov. 17 - Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship