The Daytona 500 is here, and NASCAR fans are ready for what is anticipated to be a very exciting race. This event will be the 63rd edition of "The Great American Race" and will air on Fox. There are a number of storylines heading into the race, including Denny Hamlin looking to make history and Chase Elliott, who won the Cup Series championship last season, looking to get off to a strong start in order to defend his title.
However, the Daytona 500 will be an emotional one for NASCAR fans are it will mark the 20th anniversary of the death of racing legend Dale Earnhardt. He was killed in a three-car crash on the final lap of the 2001 race.
"I didn’t want to feel any negative feelings when I came here because I love Daytona, love this track and I love the history,” Earnhardt's son, Dale Jr., who won the Daytona 500 twice, told the Associated Press in 2018. “I want to be rooted in this sport and that means I want to be at Daytona when they race here. That was the choice I made a long time ago and feel very comfortable here." Here's a look at what you need to know about this year's race.
One of the big questions about the Daytona 500 is how many fans will be at the race? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Daytona International Speedway will have around 30,000 fans, but the venue can hold up to 101,500.prevnext
Denny Hamlin Going for 3rd Consecutive Win
Denny Hamlin has won the last two Daytona 500 races and is looking to be the first driver in NASCAR history to win three times in a row. “We just hope to not get unlucky and at least give ourselves a shot at the end," Hamlin said to NASCAR.com. "Hopefully you make the right decisions. Sometimes your fate is out of your hands and you get unlucky, but I feel we’re in a really good place and I like where my car is at right now."prevnext
Chase Chasing History
While Hamlin is looking to three-peat, Chase Elliott wants to be the first driver since Dale Jarett in 2000 to win the Daytona 500 after winning the Cup Series Championship the previous season.prevnext
Alex Bowman on Pole
Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman is on the Busch Pole, his fourth consecutive front-row start in the Daytona 500. He has not won a Daytona 500 race but is coming off a strong 2020 season, finishing sixth in the Cup Series standings.prevnext
New Team for Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's only full-time Black driver, became an activist for the league during the racial injustice protests going on across the country last year. For the Daytona 500 and the 2021 season, Wallace will be with a new team, driving for 23XI Racing which is owned by Hamiln and NBA legend Michael Jordan.prevnext
Ryan Newman Returns
Ryan Newman was involved in a fiery crash in last year's Daytona 500, which led to him being hospitalized. He was able to leave the hospital and a few days later and finished the season in 25th place in the standings. Newman won the Daytona 500 in 2008 and finished in the top 10 twice in the last three years.prevnext
It's Boss Time
WWE Superstar Sasha Banks will make a special appearance at the Daytona 500 as she will be the honorary starter for the race. “I am honored to be the official starter of the Daytona 500. I would like to thank NASCAR and our partners at FOX for this opportunity,” Banks said in a statement. “I can’t wait to get out to the track in front of the great fans and find out which driver has what it takes to be a ‘Legit Boss.'"prev