Sunday afternoon, the NASCAR Cup Series will head to Daytona International Speedway for a historic race. This is the first time that the top level of motorsports will take on the Daytona Road Course, and the drivers will do so without any practice sessions. Here's when the race takes place and how to tune in.
Coverage for the Go Bowling 235 at the Daytona Road Course starts at 3 p.m. ET. NBC will provide the coverage after weeks of NBC Sports running the show. Viewers can also stream the race on NBC Sports' website. Rick Allen, Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will call the action from the booth. MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will provide the audio call for those unable to watch the race.
The @DISupdates Road Course is ready. Are you?
TODAY | 3 PM ET | NBC pic.twitter.com/awDAMxxk4C— NASCAR (@NASCAR) August 16, 2020
Following a new formula involving owner points, the finishing position from the previous race and the fastest lap of the previous race, Kevin Harvick has the pole position for the Go Bowling 235. He secured victory in both Michigan races of the doubleheader weekend, increasing his lead in the playoff standings. Denny Hamlin, 2020's second-most successful driver, joins him on the front line while leading the field to the green flag. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch line up together on the second row.
There is one major change in the lineup due to a health concern. Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro, tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms. He will miss Sunday's race while Kaz Grala replaces him and makes his Cup Series debut.
Entering Sunday's race, there is an expectation for chaos. The Xfinity Series previously tackled the road course during a Saturday afternoon race, resulting in several incidents. Drivers routinely spun out of control after hitting wet patches of grass while others missed their turns. Multiple drivers left the race early after going airborne in their stock cars and severely damaging the front ends.
While a few of the drivers have previous track time on the Daytona Road Course, albeit in different cars, the majority have no experience with the unique design. Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, is one of those that will enter Sunday's race uncertain about the best approach to achieve victory. He told PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview that he has put considerable time into simulations and working with Corvette Racing's Jordan Taylor, but this still only provides partial information.
"I've been in a simulator quite a bit. I'm just trying to prepare, and I think watching the Xfinity race is really crucial as well," Bowman told PopCulture. "Obviously, the simulator is accurate to a point, but typically the accuracy in the simulator comes from correlating it to pass data, and a driver going in there and saying, 'Yes, this is what the car really drives like at this racetrack, or no, this isn't right,' and that kind of dialing it in and getting it right and we don't have that. We don't have any data from the road course at Daytona. I don't know what it's supposed to drive like, so it's hard to say the simulator is spot on for it."