DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
Over the course of this week, driver after driver has stepped up to a microphone and oozed with optimism — recalling all the runs here where they were a lap or a move away from ultimate glory.
Perhaps that’s the magic of the Daytona 500.
The premier race of the NASCAR Cup Series, which is famous for delivering on its “anything can happen here” reputation, is set to begin just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday. It’ll be broadcast on FOX, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and MRN.
Odds indicate that this race is wide open: Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin are +1000; Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson are at +1200; and Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, William Byron and Brad Keselowski all have similar odds, too, per CBS Sports.
Keselowski, in particular, seemed to articulate how a lot of drivers feel heading into Sunday.
“I’m not Dale Earnhardt in 1998 or anything like that, but I feel like we’re due more than anybody else,” the No. 6 car driver and co-owner of RFK Racing told reporters on Saturday. This race is the last crown jewel the 2012 champion has yet to grab. “We’re really hopeful we can leave with the big trophy this time.”
The Daytona 500 will punctuate a busy week at Daytona International Speedway.
Cup single-car qualifying took place on Wednesday night, and racing icons Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana — both of whom were driving Open cars — qualified for The Great American Race on speed.
Then, on Thursday night during the Duels, the other two Open cars locked in their spot for the Daytona 500: Those two were last year’s Truck Series champion Zane Smith and IndyCar star Conor Daly. (Thursday also saw Kyle Busch get spun out from the lead in Duel 2, as well as Joey Logano and Aric Almirola notch Duel wins.)
Friday was the Truck Series race, a rain-shortened race that saw Zane Smith take a damp trip to Victory Lane. Saturday featured the ARCA Menards Series race in the afternoon and the Xfinity Series race in the evening.
And now, we’re here — 200 laps around the 2.5-mile track away from more history.
Some history of the recent variety: Denny Hamlin has the most Daytona 500 wins among active drivers with three (2016, 19, 20). Johnson has two wins (2006, 13). And five others have one apiece: Austin Cindric (last year’s champion), Michael McDowell, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.
How to watch Daytona 500
- Race: DAYTONA 500
- Place: Daytona International Speedway
- Date: Sunday, February 19
- Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
- Purse: $26,934,357
- TV: FOX, 1 p.m. ET
- Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
- Stream: FOX Sports, FuboTV
- Distance: 500 miles (200 laps)
- Stages: Stage 1 (ends on Lap 65), Stage 2 (ends on Lap 130), Stage 3 (ends on Lap 200).
|16||Martin Truex Jr.||19|
|31||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47|