Daytona 500 Story Lines

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Pit Stall Assignments | Daytona Schedule

Update: Daytona 500 Postponed to Monday

There are plenty of stories to follow during the 62nd running of the Daytona 500, which can be heard live on the Motor Racing Network.

Hamlin Looking to Repeat
Denny Hamlin has finished in the top five in three of his last five starts at superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega), including a win in last year’s Daytona 500. Hamlin, who also won the 500 in 2016, joins Jimmie Johnson as the only two drivers in the field with multiple wins in “The Great American Race.” If Hamlin can score the win on Sunday he would become just the fourth driver to win back-to-back Daytona 500s. Sterling Marlin was the last to accomplish the feat in 1994, 1995.

Update: No. 11 Fails Inspection; Hamlin to Start in the Back

See Also: Daytona Winners | Daytona Driver Averages

Johnson’s Final Full-Time Season
Jimmie Johnson will begin his final full-time NASCAR Cup Series season when he takes the green flag in Sunday’s Daytona 500. The seven-time Cup champion has three career wins at Daytona, including a season sweep in 2013. Last year, Johnson finished in the top 10 in both Daytona races. He will start sixth on Sunday.

“It could be my last 500. I don’t know, ” Johnson said. “I am officially retiring from 38 weekends a year at the end of the season. I do know that. But the right situation, I would certainly consider it. I know that I can’t shut off my competitive nature at the end of the year and call it good.”

See Also: Daytona to Honor Johnson

Stenhouse Jr. Out Front
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will lead the field to the green flag in the Daytona 500 after securing the pole last Sunday in his first start with JTG Daugherty Racing. Stenhouse Jr.’s two career wins have come at Talladega and Daytona. He led a race-high 27 laps in his Duel on Thursday night and will be joined by Alex Bowman on the front row.

See Also: Final Practice Speeds | Third Practice Speeds

Seeking Second 500 Win
Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman each have one win the Daytona 500 and now set their sights on a second. Four of them will start in the top 15 with Busch in 18th.

Photos: Daytona 500 Paint Schemes

Rookie Class
A large Sunoco Rookie of the Year class will take to the track together for the first time in the Daytona 500. The group will feature the “Big 3” from last year’s Xfinity Series championship battle that consisted of champion Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Christopher Bell. John Hunter Nemechek, Quin Houff and Brennan Poole will complete this year’s class. Reddick is the only rookie that has made a previous start in the Daytona 500. Custer is the highest starter, 12th, among the group for Sunday’s race. Both Bell and Poole will be making their first career Cup start.

Busch Eyes Daytona 500 Win
Kyle Busch has won just about everything in NASCAR but there’s one major piece missing from his long list of accomplishments, a win in the Daytona 500. Busch, who will start 28th in his 15th start in the 500, finished second to Denny Hamlin last year in “The Great American Race” in a 1-2-3 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing. Read More

See Also: Season Race Winning Streaks

First-Time Winners
Not only are there 33 drivers in the field that have not won a Daytona 500, but there’s a number that are still seeking their first career Cup win. Along with the rookies, some of the notable drivers in that group are William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto and Bubba Wallace, who have all had their share of success at Daytona. Byron won his Duel this past Thursday night and finished second last July at Daytona. DiBenedetto, who is making his first start with the Wood Brothers, led a race-high 49 laps last year in the 500 and Wallace finished second in 2018. Trevor Bayne was the last driver to score his first career Cup win in the Daytona 500 in 2011.

See Also: Daytona Fantasy Racing Update

To Block or Not to Block
This will be the first Daytona 500 run with the current superspeedway rules package that debuted last spring at Talladega. Blocking was one of the hot topics this week after last weekend’s Busch Clash.

“We have all been programmed to block and do things with the old package for so many years and this is not the old package,” Harvick said. “The runs are happening faster. The cars are kind of lining up and spin out really easy to the right when you push them wrong. They are going. They are hauling the mail. They are fast compared to where we were before.”

When it comes to the last three races at superspeedways, Ryan Newman (4.7), Aric Almirola (6.7), Corey LaJoie (8.0), Ty Dillon (10.3) and Joey Logano (13.3) have the top average finish.

NASCAR.com: Daytona Tactics Turning 500 into a Battle of Survival | Keselowski, Logano Talk

Clash-500 Sweep
If Erik Jones can pull off the win in the Daytona 500 he would become just the seventh driver to win the Busch Clash and the 500 in the same year. Denny Hamlin was the last to accomplish the feat in 2016. Dale Jarrett is the only driver that has done it twice – 1996, 2000.

Truex Jr. Wants Superspeedway Win
Martin Truex Jr. has won on just about every type of track on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, but there’s one he’s yet to conquer. After finally capturing short-track wins in 2019 with a season sweep at Richmond Raceway and then at Martinsville Speedway in the fall, Truex Jr. now sets his sights on a superspeedway victory at Daytona International Speedway or Talladega Superspeedway. Truex, who finished second in 2016 Daytona 500, will start 15th. Read More

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