Ambetter Health 400 race preview

Following on from the closest Daytona 500 finish ever, this weekend sees NASCAR returns to its moonshining roots in Atlanta, Georgia, for the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

3 min read

The NASCAR Cup Series will race around the 28 degree banked 1.54-mile superspeedway oval for 260 laps (400 miles), with stage lengths of 60, 100, and 100 laps.

This will be the fifth NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the track reconfiguration in 2021 turning the track into a steeper banked, repaved, ‘mini-Daytona’ type racing track, with the cars using a superspeedway package like at Daytona and Talladega.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #6 King’s Hawaiian Ford, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

For large parts of the race, drivers will be racing in high-speed packs, utilising the draft and pushes to get to the front, especially on restarts. As the tires begin to wear more into a run, cars will begin to spread out and large packs will break up, racing more like a traditional 1.5-mile speedway race.

Last year’s Ambetter Health 400 saw Joey Logano achieve his childhood dream by winning the race after outduelling former Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in the final laps of the race, partly due to a helpful push from Christopher Bell down the backstretch to clear the pack.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Michael McDowell earned his first ever Cup series pole today with a lap time of 30.999 seconds (average speed of 178.844mph). With 467 Cup races under his belt, it’s the most start’s by a Cup driver before securing a pole since J.D. McDuffie’s 404 Cup starts before securing a pole at the 1978 Delaware 500 at Dover Motor Speedway.

Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Benebone Ford, poses for photos after winning the pole award during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, 2024 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

Josh Williams will make his fourth Cup series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for Kaulig Racing, qualifying 30th.

This follows a memorable 2023 spring Xfinity race at Atlanta where Williams grabbed the headlines after parking his No. 92 DGM Racing Chevrolet at the start finish line and walking across the track to the garage after refusing to accept NASCAR’s ruling for him to park his car for the race, due to multiple yellow flags coming out for debris off his car following race damage.

It led to a surge of fan, garage, and sponsor support for Williams, who is known to be a big personality, and unafraid to express himself in NASCAR, being a ‘what you see is what you get’ type character, as well overachieving in his equipment, leading to a full-time Kaulig Racing ride in the Xfinity series this season as well as a part-time Cup schedule with them including at Atlanta this weekend.

Since the reconfiguration in 2021, last week’s Daytona 500 winner William Byron has won two of the first four Atlanta races, including the first race in the spring of 2022, and the summer 2023 race. Chase Elliott won the 2022 summer race and Joey Logano won the 2023 spring race.

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JULY 09: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Available at Walmart at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 09, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Other active drivers to have won at Atlanta Motor Speedway pre-2021 reconfiguration include two-time winners Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, as well as reigning Cup series champion Ryan Blaney, and Denny Hamlin.

Tune in Sunday for the Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this with the race beginning at 3pm ET (8pm UK time).

Full qualifying results 

  1. Michael McDowell
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Todd Gilliland
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Ryan Blaney
  7. Chris Buescher
  8. Austin Cindric
  9. Chase Brisoce
  10. Austin Dillon
  11. William Byron
  12. Martin Truex Jr.
  13. Denny Hamlin
  14. Josh Berry
  15. Noah Gragson
  16. Harrison Burton
  17. Alex Bowman
  18. Bubba Wallace
  19. Tyler Reddick
  20. Ryan Preece
  21. Ross Chastain
  22. Christopher Bell
  23. Daniel Suárez
  24. Brad Keselowski
  25. Ty Gibbs
  26. Daniel Hemric
  27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  28. Chase Elliott
  29. Zane Smith
  30. Josh Williams
  31. Justin Haley
  32. Corey LaJoie
  33. Kaz Grala
  34. John Hunter Nemechek
  35. Carson Hocevar
  36. B.J. McLeod
  37. Erik Jones

Featured image: HAMPTON, GEORGIA – MARCH 19: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Menards/Knauf Ford, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Liberty University Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

William Byron wins Daytona 500 in closest finish ever

After surviving a 23-car wreck with nine laps to go, William Byron went on to win his first Daytona 500 on Hendrick Motorsports’ 40th anniversary via a four-lap shootout, when the yellow came out on the final lap for a Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric wrecking on the frontstretch.  At the moment of caution, Byron had his nose ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman to be 0.006 seconds in front, making it the closest finish in Daytona 500 history, and a Hendrick Motorsports one-two, on Monday night.

5 min read

Hendrick anniversary celebrations

It was William Byron’s second Cup win at Daytona having won the 2020 summer race, the Coke Zero Sugar 400, and his 11th Cup series win.

Byron said: “I’m just a kid from racing on computers and winning the Daytona 500. This is so freaking cool.”

Byron gave Hendrick Motorsports their ninth Daytona 500 win, tying them with Petty Enterprises for most Daytona 500 wins.

William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, and crew celebrate in victory lane after winning he NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Team owner Rick Hendrick said, “I’m telling you, you couldn’t write the script any better. We win this on our 40th to the day, so that’s awesome.”

It was the 40th anniversary to the day as NASCAR was forced to move the race to Monday due to bad weather all day Sunday.

Hendricks Motorsports made their NASCAR Cup Series debut in the 1984 Daytona 500 when Geoff Bodine took their No. 5 Chevrolet to an eighth place finish.

Three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, who won the Great American Race with Hendrick Motorsports in 1997, ’99, and ’05 with the No. 24 Chevrolet, and now is Vice Chairman for Hendrick Motorsports was ecstatic about the win.

Gordon said: “I might not have been driving the car tonight, but I felt like I made every lap with our guys, especially with the 24 and with William in those closing laps when he was out front. To me, when I found out that they had won, I honestly was about as excited as I was when I was driving. It is 2024, and the 24 is always going to be very, very special to me. But what I loved the most is seeing him make it his number.”

Jeff Gordon celebrates his win in the Daytona 500 (Photo credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Alex Bowman very nearly ended Byron’s chances of winning the Daytona 500 on lap 192 when down the backstretch he bumped an already loose Byron that sent him veering to the left into Brad Keselowski’s right rear setting off the 23-car wreck. Both Bowman and Byron managed to escape the wrecking field unscathed.

Chastain, Busch, and Logano

Ross Chastain had led 14 laps of the Daytona 500 and been duelling at the front for much of the final stage of the race, including on lap 192 when the 23-car wreck occurred behind him.

Chastain, after already making aggressive blocks earlier in the final stage on Joey Logano, as the field took the white flag on the frontstrectch, from the second row Chastain bolted for a closing gap between Austin Cindric and William Byron but Chastain got collected by Cindric before both spun down into the grass and back into the pack, bringing out the yellow, ending the race one-lap early.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Chastain said: “I took the gap, I don’t apologise for that. Too aggressive though, and when you don’t finish.” Chastain wound up 21st.

Polesitter Joey Logano, going for his second Daytona 500 win, led a race high of 45 laps but was taken out by Brad Keselowski in the lap 192 big one and finished 32nd.

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Celsius Chevrolet, and Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Nasty Beast Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch went into Monday’s Daytona 500 as the driver who had led the most laps in the Daytona 500 race in history without a Daytona 500 win. Busch led in all three stages of the races and was in the mix in the final 10 laps but was unable to draft up to the front in the closing laps and had to settle for 12th.

Kyle Busch had an eventful race as in stage three during the stage break, a loose lug nut led to a tyre puncture forcing him to limp round and get a new set of tyres, only to take back the lead of the race with less than 60 laps to go.

The after falling back through the pack, Busch would bounce off the turn two wall in the mid pack on lap 172.

Rest of race recap

After Logano and 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell led the field to green for the 66th running of the Daytona 500, a multi-car crash on lap six transcended when Keselowski pushed John Hunter Nemechek in the rear, turning him down into Harrison Burton and rookie Carson Hocevar, ending both their races, as well as collecting Kaz Grala, Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, and Ryan Preece in the melee.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Fans saw two and three-wide action in all the stages, with pit stop strategies mostly aligning with the manufacturer’s.

David Ragan and Ryan Preece tried to win stage one without pitting for fuel for a second time but were caught by the Kyle Busch led pack with three laps to go, that ended with Chase Elliott winning stage one, and with the four Hendrick Motorsport’s drivers inside the top five.

Stage two saw Joey Logano lead the opening 20 laps of the stage and Kyle Busch led much of the last 15 laps, overcoming a pit road penalty for having too many pit crew members over the wall. It was reigning Cup series champion Ryan Blaney who won the stage.

Three-time Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin took the lead on lap 152 and would lead again from 154-162, while Busch would bounce off the turn two wall in the mid pack on lap 172.

Also taken out in the lap 192 big one was last year’s Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Thursday night’s duel one winner Tyler Reddick, and Ryan Blaney.

The next race is the Ambetter Health 400 from Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday 25th Feb with the race starting at 3pm ET (8pm UK time).  

Full race results 

  1. William Byron
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. Christopher Bell
  4. Corey LaJoie
  5. Bubba Wallace
  6. AJ Allmendinger
  7. John Hunter Nemechek
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Noah Gragson
  10. Chase Briscoe
  11. Kyle Larson
  12. Kyle Busch
  13. Zane Smith
  14. Chase Elliott
  15. Martin Truex Jr.
  16. Daniel Hemric
  17. Ty Gibbs
  18. Chris Buescher
  19. Denny Hamlin
  20. David Ragan
  21. Ross Chastain
  22. Austin Cindric
  23. Ryan Preece
  24. Riley Herbst
  25. Josh Berry
  26. Justin Haley
  27. Anthony Alfredo
  28. Jimmie Johnson
  29. Tyler Reddick
  30. Ryan Blaney
  31. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  32. Joey Logano
  33. Brad Keselowski
  34. Daniel Suárez
  35. Todd Gilliland
  36. Michael McDowell
  37. Austin Dillon
  38. Kaz Grala
  39. Harrison Burton
  40. Carson Hocevar

Points standings 

  1. William Byron – 54
  2. Alex Bowman – 50
  3. Christopher Bell – 44
  4. Chase Elliott – 42
  5. Bubba Wallace – 39
  6. John Hunter Nemechek – 37
  7. Kyle Larson – 37
  8. Kyle Busch – 37
  9. Erik Jones – 35
  10. Corey LaJoie – 33
  11. Austin Cindric – 33
  12. Denny Hamlin – 30
  13. Chase Briscoe – 29
  14. Zane Smith – 29
  15. Noah Gragson – 28
  16. Martin Truex Jr. – 24
  17. Ross Chastain – 24
  18. Tyler Reddick – 24
  19. Ty Gibbs – 23
  20. Daniel Hemric – 21
  21. Chris Buescher – 21
  22. David Ragan – 17
  23. Ryan Blaney – 17
  24. Daniel Suárez – 17
  25. Ryan Preece – 14
  26. Josh Berry – 12
  27. Justin Haley – 12
  28. Jimmie Johnson – 9
  29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 9
  30. Joey Logano – 9
  31. Brad Keselowski – 8
  32. Carson Hocevar – 8
  33. Harrison Burton – 7
  34. Todd Gilliland – 2
  35. Michael McDowell – 1
  36. Austin Dillon – 1
  37. Kaz Grala – 1

Featured Image: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, leads Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, to the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

2024 Daytona 500: preview, schedule, lineup

 

NASCAR are racing on a Monday to get the Cup Series’ super bowl season opener underway at Daytona International Speedway, Florida, for the 66th running of the Daytona 500.

4 min read

  • Preview
  • Schedule
  • Lineup

Forty V8 Gen 7 stock cars will compete in the Great American Race in front of a sold out crowd at speeds over 200mph, on the high 31 degrees Daytona banking, inches apart from each other for 200 laps, in a bid to win one of NASCAR’s most prestigious prizes, the Harley J. Earl Trophy and forever immortalise themselves into the history books on stock car racing’s biggest day.

The Daytona 500 relinquished the usual Sunday race date due to heavy rain all day yesterday but it’s clear skies ahead for today’s running of NASCAR’s crown jewel event.

 

Last year saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win the Great American race for the first time with JTG Daugherty Racing in a double overtime finish after marching through the field from 31st with 20 laps to go.

There are seven active Daytona 500 winners in this year’s edition of the race including three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, and two-time Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger/Cottonelle Chevrolet, and crew celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series 65th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Schedule

The Daytona 500 race starts at 4pm ET (9pm UK time) with American actor and pro wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson giving the command to fire engines.

The race will be broken down into three stages of 65, 65, and 70 laps totaling 200 laps (500 miles). There is a grand purse of over $28 million up for grabs to be shared out amongst the 40 drivers and teams, making victory lane a very wealthy place to find yourself in post-race.

Grand Marshal Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson speaks to the media during a press conference after the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 was postponed due to weather at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

It is likely we will see an overtime finish given five of the last six Daytona 500 races have had an overtime finish; where NASCAR reset the laps to two laps to go if there is a yellow flag brought out too close to the finish but before one lap to go, in an attempt to end the race finish under green racing conditions, with the race leader needing to take the one lap to go white flag at the start finish line to make the race end official regardless of whether or not the yellow flag comes out on the final lap. If the white flag isn’t taken due to a yellow flag being brought out, the field of cars are restacked and another NASCAR overtime will commence.

Lineup

2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano secured the pole position for Team Penske on Wednesday night in the brand new Dark Horse Mustang, the first Daytona 500 pole for Team Penske, with fellow Ford driver and 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, lining up alongside him for Front Row Motorsports, the first time Ford have swept the front row for the Daytona 500 grid since 2012 and ending Chevrolet’s 11-year streak of taking pole.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, (R) winner of the Daytona 500 pole award and Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, Front Row second fastest winner pose for a photo during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Lining up on row two are the two duel winners, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell from Thursday night in the brand new Toyota Camry XSE, where rows 2-20 were decided for the 500 via two 60-lap heat races with a 42-car field split in half to compete in either heat.

Row three sees NASCAR’s most popular driver and 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott start 5th alongside 2022 Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric.

Row four is composed of three-time Daytona 500 pole winner Alex Bowman starting 7th and 2016, ’19, and ’20 Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin lining up 8th.

Row five sees breakout star and rookie Carson Hocevar lineup 9th in his first Daytona 500 start, with John Hunter Nemechek lining up 10th making his second Daytona 500 start, now driving for Legacy Motor Club.

2006 and 2013 Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson will start 23rd after narrowly qualifying for the Great American Race in Thursday night’s duel race passing rival qualifying challenger J.J. Yeley coming off turn four on the final lap to secure his spot in today’s race, with Yeley going home.

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #84 Carvana Toyota, and JJ Yeley, driver of the #44 100 Coconut Water Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duel #1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Full lineup 

  1. Joey Logano (2015 Daytona 500 winner)
  2. Michael McDowell (2021 Daytona 500 winner)
  3. Tyler Reddick
  4. Christopher Bell
  5. Chase Elliott
  6. Austin Cindric (2022 Daytona 500 winner)
  7. Alex Bowman
  8. Denny Hamlin (2016, ’19, ’20 Daytona 500 winner)
  9. Carson Hocevar
  10. John Hunter Nemechek
  11. Erik Jones
  12. Harrison Burton
  13. Daniel Suárez
  14. Zane Smith
  15. Ty Gibbs
  16. Brad Keselowski
  17. Kyle Larson
  18. William Byron
  19. Chris Buescher
  20. Chase Briscoe
  21. Ross Chastain
  22. Justin Haley
  23. Jimmie Johnson (2006, ’13 Daytona 500 winner)
  24. Bubba Wallace
  25. Ryan Preece
  26. Kaz Grala
  27. Martin Truex Jr.
  28. AJ Allmendinger
  29. Corey LaJoie
  30. Josh Berry
  31. Todd Gilliland
  32. Ryan Blaney
  33. Austin Dillon (2018 Daytona 500 winner)
  34. Kyle Busch
  35. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2023 Daytona 500 winner)
  36. Riley Herbst
  37. Daniel Hemric
  38. Noah Gragson
  39. Anthony Alfredo
  40. David Ragan

Featured image: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series 65th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch checks off Gateway

Kyle Busch led half the laps in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300, and conquered five late race restarts, including an overtime restart, to take the chequered to claim his third career win of the season, and win at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Illinois, in the Cup Series for the first time in his second try.  

  • Kyle Busch checks off Gateway
  • Brake rotor failures
  • Rest of race recap
  • Full race results
  • Points standings
Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The polesitter won stage one, and led five different times for 121 laps of the 240 to get his 63rd Cup Series career win.

Kyle Larson challenged Busch for the lead in each of the final five restarts, who had got to first with under 65 laps to go after only taking two tyres on pit road.

Larson was unable to challenge Busch on the final restart, allowing Denny Hamlin to take second with last year’s winner Joey Logano finishing third and Larson fourth.

Kyle Busch said: “Man, to sit on the pole, lead a lot of laps and have my guys do such a great job today was pretty phenomenal for us. Great for RCR. Just win, baby! Thanks to Team Chevy, appreciate 3Chi (sponsor).”

Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, celebrates with RCR team owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Richard Childress and wife, Samantha Busch in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch had won at every track on the Cup Series schedule prior to the 2018 season, but with the addition of several new tracks in recent years, Busch has more work to do to reach that feat again. He has gotten one step closer by winning at World Wide Technology after only been added to the Cup Series schedule last year.

Kyle Larson had been outside the top 30 during stage one and described his car as “bad loose” finishing 28th in stage one. Several adjustments made to the car by the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports crew, along with the two-tyre call with less than 60 laps to go miraculously saw him go to the front briefly.

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney left off where he finished last week where he ended his 59 winless drought to win the Coca-Cola 600, led 83 laps, including dominating and winning stage two, but was unable to get by Busch and Larson in the closing 50 laps of the race and would finish sixth. 

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

William Byron had taken over the lead of the race halfway through the final stage but a slow pit stop under caution on lap 178 dropped him down to fourth and sank further through the field under green. Byron finished eighth.

Corey Lajoie made his debut for Hendrick Motorsports filling in for Chase Elliott, who was serving a one race suspension by NASCAR for intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin in last week’s Coca-Cola 600.

LaJoie’s No. 9 Chevrolet was not handling well in the first half of the race after qualifying 30th,  being stuck outside the the top 25 but managed a solid 21st place finish despite the ill handling race car.

Corey LaJoie, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Brake rotor failures

Full time Truck Series competitor Carson Hocevar, who got his first Truck Series win at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year, filled in for LaJoie in the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, making his Cup Series debut and put on an impressive show.

He qualified 26th  but worked his way up the order in the first two stages challenging Austin Dillon for 16th but his race ended early when on lap 90 his right front brake rotor exploded, taking him out of the race.

Hocevar said: “I had a blast. Just so thankful for the opportunity. I was running 16th… just so surreal for the first time ever. I thought we were going to have a good day and be in a good spot for the No. 7 Chevy team. Hopefully, that call for a Cup ride isn’t the only one I get in my life.”

Several drivers experienced brake rotor failures in the race, most likely down to the hard braking required from high speed to make turns one and three. The brakes appeared to be worse when drivers only took two tyres and ran long.

Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson, and Bubba Wallace all had front right brake rotor failures on lap 175, 198, and 235 respectively, bringing out the caution as brake rotor debris littered turns one and two.

Rest of race recap

Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway on June 04, 2023 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

The race was stopped on lap seven and delayed for two hours due to lightning in the area but no rain reached the race track.

A general view of pit road during a weather delay of the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski lost engine performance at the end of stage one and went down a lap. Due to a flurry of late race cautions, Keselowski was able to finish 28th on the lead lap despite the loss in performance.

The start of stage two saw Ross Chastain tag Michael McDowell on the restart sending McDowell go for a spin. McDowell had taken two tires during the stage break, gaining 11 positions, that put him inside the top 10. McDowell recovered from this to finish ninth.

Lap 61 saw Ryan Blaney finally clear Kyle Busch for the lead after racing side by side for several laps, and would lead the rest of stage two to lap 90 to take the stage win.

Daniel Suarez and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had strong runs going in the first two stages, running inside the top 10.

William Byron took over the lead briefly from Tyler Reddick at the start of the final stage. Reddick had gained 11 positions during the stage break on pit road by taking two tyres only. Byron lost the lead to Larson on pit road during the next caution due to Reddick’s brake rotor failure.

With 55 to go, Kyle Busch cleared Kyle Larson for the lead coming off turn two, who had held it briefly on the restart. Busch would stay out front for the remainder of the race.

Christopher Bell was spun out by Austin Cindric in a three-wide incident in turn two but recovered to a 11th place finish.

Klye Busch’s RCR teammate Austin Dillon ended Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s strong day with 22 laps to go when he turned off of the nose of Austin Cindric and piled into Stenhouse going into turn one, taking both of them out of the race.

Bubba Wallace’s brake rotor failure with five laps to go saw the caution come out again that led to the overtime finish that saw Kyle Busch take the chequered flag for Richard Childress Racing.

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series will be the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway in California with the green flag flying this Sunday at 3:30pm ET.

Full race results 

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Joey Logano
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Martin Truex Jr.
  6. Ryan Blaney
  7. Daniel Suarez
  8. William Byron
  9. Michael McDowell
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Christopher Bell
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Austin Cindric
  14. AJ Allmendinger
  15. Todd Gilliland
  16. Justin Haley
  17. Ryan Preece
  18. Erik Jones
  19. Aric Almirola
  20. Ty Gibbs
  21. Corey LaJoie
  22. Ross Chastain
  23. Harrison Burton
  24. JJ Yeley
  25. Ty Dillon
  26. Alex Bowman
  27. BJ McLeod
  28. Brad Keselowski
  29. Gray Gaulding
  30. Bubba Wallace
  31. Austin Dillon
  32. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  33. Noah Gragson
  34. Chase Briscoe
  35. Tyler Reddick
  36. Carson Hocevar

Stage one

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Martin Truex Jr.
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Kevin Harvick
  7. William Byron
  8. Ross Chastain
  9. Austin Cindric
  10. Daniel Suarez

Stage two 

  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. William Byron
  5. Daniel Suarez
  6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Kevin Harvick
  9. Ross Chastain
  10. Kyle Larson

Points standings

(* = locked into playoffs)

  1. Ryan Blaney* – 495
  2. William Byron* – 482
  3. Kevin Harvick – 473
  4. Martin Truex Jr.* – 472
  5. Ross Chastain – 466
  6. Christopher Bell* – 455
  7. Kyle Busch* – 451
  8. Denny Hamlin* – 451
  9. Kyle Larson* – 411
  10. Tyler Reddick* – 411
  11. Brad Keselowski – 403
  12. Joey Logano* – 401
  13. Chris Buescher – 393
  14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* – 368
  15. Bubba Wallace – 334
  16. Daniel Suarez – 313

  17. Alex Bowman – 307
  18. Ty Gibbs – 298
  19. Austin Cindric – 280
  20. Michael McDowell – 278
  21. Corey LaJoie – 274
  22. Justin Haley – 268
  23. Todd Gilliland – 266
  24. AJ Allmendinger – 260
  25. Aric Almirola – 251
  26. Erik Jones – 245
  27. Ryan Preece – 245
  28. Chase Elliott – 215
  29. Harrison Burton – 209
  30. Austin Dillon – 200
  31. Chase Briscoe – 175
  32. Noah Gragson – 143
  33. Ty Dillon – 132
  34. BJ McLeod – 88

Featured Image: Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet, takes a bow after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at WWT Raceway (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

 

Byron shines at Darlington; Chastain and Truex instigate wild pile-ups

William Byron won Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway by avoiding two huge pile-ups and keeping his car inside the top 10 all race long, to secure his seventh career win and third win of the season while lots of drivers’ good days, including teammate Kyle Larson, were ruined by being caught up in multi-car pile-ups caused by Ross Chastain and Martin Truex Jr. 

  • Another Blow to Larson’s Quest for Darlington Cup Win
  • Chastain Overdrives into Truex
  • Truex wrecks Logano
  • Bubba Wallace Comeback
  • Rest of Race Recap
  • Full Race Results
  • Points Standings

Byron snuck past the carnage caused by Truex Jr. and Joey Logano wrecking in turn one on a late race restart that created a pile-up behind them, moving Byron up into third place, where he had spent much of the race until a slow pit stop with less than 40 laps to go saw him fall back to ninth.

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 14: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 14, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

He found himself taking the lead via another pile-up on the very next restart with six laps to go as Chastain and Larson wrecked in turn one much like Truex Jr. and Logano had.

Byron easily fought off Harvick in the two-lap overtime shootout as Harvick’s car had suffered front-end damage from the first pile-up, to take the chequered flag in what was a moment of redemption for Byron as he had lost last year’s Spring Darlington race to Joey Logano via a bump and run in turns three and four on the final lap.

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 14: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 14, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Byron said: “My grandad passed away on Thursday, and just, man, I wish my family could be here. Just things have a way of working out, honestly. It just worked out that way today. We didn’t have the best third stage. We just kept battling, and things just kind of come back around.”

As part of NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend at Darlington’s Raceway on its 75th anniversary, William Byron’s No. 24 team was running a throwback paint scheme to four-time Cup champion and Hendrick Motorsports Vice Chairman, Jeff Gordon’s shiny 1998 All-Star Race DuPont (now AXALTA) Chromalusion/NASCAR 50th anniversary car.

Byron’s redemption Darlington victory appropriately secures the No. 24 car it’s 100th win in NASCAR, with Jeff Gordon having scored 93 of them.

Another Blow to Larson’s Quest for Darlington Cup Win

Kyle Larson fell short of a Darlington Cup Series win once again, after marching through the field and appearing to have the best car, only to be taken out by Ross Chastain who while also having one of the strongest cars in the race, failed to stop himself from causing multiple pileups from asking too much out of his race car.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, rides closely to the wall at Darlington Raceway (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Studios)

Larson, Saturday’s Darlington Xfinity race winner, became buried back in traffic after having a slow pit on lap 39 in stage one but went from 29th to 12th by the end of the stage.

Larson impressively cut through the field all the way up to third by the end of stage two and was a threat for the win as he jumped race leader Ross Chastain during the final green flag pit stop on lap 246, and led over 20 laps until a caution for returning Cup Series veteran Ryan Newman saw the field be restacked with Larson and Chastain lined up together for the lap 281 restart.

As Truex and Logano wrecked behind them, Larson lost the lead as Chastain had inched ahead on the inside from the last scoring loop the two had past prior to the caution.

The next restart saw the pair race tightly side-by-side into turn one before Chastain sailed up into Larson and spun off Larson’s nose causing a pile-up behind with Larson pushing Chastain sideways out of turn two, dashing both their hopes for a Darlington win with Larson and Chastain ending up 20th and 29th.

Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and Kyle Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet post-race said regarding Chastain’s aggressive driving: “It’s hard to win a championship when you got a lot of paybacks out there. Dale Earnhardt Sr. said ‘he got all the talent. He just doesn’t know how to race. [Chastain] is making a lot of enemies out there.”

Chastain said: “I got really tight and drove up and turned myself. I wanted to squeeze him. I wanted to push him up. We’d been racing back and forth all day. But I definitely didn’t want to turn myself.”

Larson did make contact with Chastain prior to the incident as they battled over the race lead as Truex Jr. and Logano wrecked behind them on the previous restart.

It’s yet another one that got away for Larson’s Darlington Raceway quest for a Cup Series win at The Lady In Black after previously amassing three runner up finishes, in 2019 and in both 2021 races as well as finishing third in the 2016 and 2018 Darlington races. 

It’s the third time this season that Chastain has had a coming together with Larson that cost them the chance at a win, previously at Dover and Talladega.

Chastain Overdrives into Truex

Chastain had ran inside the top-five for much of the race and led over 100 laps before crashing into Larson. After finishing fourth in stage one, Chastain drove like he had been shot out of a cannon following the green flag pit stop halfway through stage two that saw him fly by Byron for second on lap 147 and race leader Truex Jr. four laps later as was able to hold off a late charging Truex for the final 11 laps to win stage two but not without controversy.

In turn three on the final lap Chastain broke hard behind a lapped car and bounced off the wall and into Truex who was sent spinning down the track and would finish 10th while Chastain would win stage two.

Truex’s car remained tight for the remainder of the race, with Truex putting it down to a bent toe link in the right front as a result of the contact.

Martin Truex Jr. spins out following contact with Ross Chastain at Darlington Raceway (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

All this comes just days after Chastain’s fighting incident with Legacy Motor Club driver Noah Gragson following the Kansas Cup race where he decided to land the first punch on pit road post-race after Gragson was displaying his displeasure towards him for running him into the turn four wall during the race.

 

Truex Wrecks Logano

Martin Truex Jr. started on the inside of Logano on row two for the lap 281 restart but got tight underneath him in turn one and ran Logano into the wall, and spun off of Logano’s Ford Mustang causing an eight-car pile-up and all but ended what had a been a strong day for the polesitter having led 145 laps.

Truex said: “Like I said, knocked the toe out in the right front. Pretty crappy from there, and then on that restart, I guess I just got real tight and I don’t even know who I squeezed into the wall, but I apologize to them. Probably my fault, just got real tight and couldn’t stay down the track.”

Logano and Truex Jr. would finish 18th and 31st respectively. Logano was running a distinctive 1973 Mark Donohue throwback scheme for the race that had got Team Penske their first NASCAR Cup Series win at Riverside.

 

Bubba Wallace Comeback

Bubba Wallace came back to a fifth place finish after plummeting to 18th from third during the stage one break following a slow pit stop due to a lug nut issue.

Wallace had qualified second and dominated stage one with Truex until Byron passed Wallace for second with 10 laps to go in stage one.

Bubba Wallace races in his No. 23 Dr Pepper Toyota (Photo by Brittney Wilbur/NASCAR Studios)

Wallace found himself stuck during stage two unable to move forward much as only managed 15th at the end of stage two.

Avoiding being caught up in the late race drama saw Wallace earn valuable points with the fifth place finish.

Rest of Race Recap

The drivers to give command for Sunday’s race were none other than the drivers from NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers list, all of which had been selected and revealed throughout the year up until the throwback weekend with drivers who could attend it in person such as Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr., and Kevin Harvick giving the command to start engines.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France poses with members of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers list prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 14, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Truex Jr. following the last lap spin in stage one, led the first half of stage two keeping ahead of Byron, despite Byron pitting lap earlier for fresh tyres, bringing the gap down from over four seconds to 1.4.

Lap 194 saw Erik Jones crash into the pack off turn two on a restart due a loose wheel coming away from under him, causing a nine-car crash that took Austin Dillon, and Daniel Suarez out of the race.

Jones, who was running a 1968 Richard Petty Daytona 500 throwback scheme, had worked his way up inside the top 15 from a 28th starting position.

Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 Serial1.com E-Bikes Ford, Erik Jones, driver of the No. 43 Allegiant Chevrolet, and Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 LLumar Throwback Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

A few laps into the final stage saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who had ran as high as sixth throughout stage one, spin out in turn three bringing out another caution.

With 78 laps to go on the next restart, Chastain and Kyle Busch, who had been inside the top ten all race, led the field back to green but Busch slid up into the turn two wall dropping down to fourth.

There was a three car battle in Chastain, Byron and Larson inside of 50 laps to go that saw Larson come out on top following the final green flag pit stop.

Three time Darlington Southern 500 winner Denny Hamlin stayed out for several laps during the final green flag pit cycle in a hope for a caution that would drag the field down pit road with him but did not come in time before Larson took the lead back from Hamlin on fresher tyres.

Christopher Bell was running second to Larson inside of 20 to go but a loose wheel from the pit stop forced him back down pit road under caution following Newman’s spin, which saw him start from the rear.

Due in part to the two late race pile-ups, the final top 10 was somewhat new compared to the rest of the race with Chase Elliott finishing third after a steady march through the field, Harrison Burton sixth, Justin Haley eighth, and Chris Buescher tenth.

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series sees them return to the legendary and freshly renovated North Wilkesboro Speedway in Wilkes County, North Carolina this Sunday for this season’s All-Star Race with the All-Star Open last chance qualifying starting 5:30pm ET and the All-Star Race starting at 8pm ET.

Full Race Results 

  1. William Byron
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Chase Elliott
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Bubba Wallace
  6. Harrison Burton
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Justin Haley
  9. Ryan Blaney
  10. Chris Buescher
  11. Todd Gilliland
  12. Denny Hamlin
  13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  14. Christopher Bell
  15. Ryan Preece
  16. Ty Gibbs
  17. Chase Briscoe
  18. Joey Logano
  19. Austin Cindric
  20. Kyle Larson
  21. Aric Almirola
  22. Tyler Reddick
  23. AJ Allmendinger
  24. Corey LaJoie
  25. Erik Jones
  26. Noah Gragson
  27. Ty Dillon
  28. Ryan Newman
  29. Ross Chastain
  30. Josh Berry
  31. Martin Truex Jr.
  32. BJ McLeod
  33. Michael McDowell
  34. Daniel Suarez
  35. Austin Dillon
  36. Brennan Poole

Stage 1 Top 10

  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. William Byron
  3. Bubba Wallace
  4. Ross Chastain
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Brad Keselowski
  7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  8. Kevin Harvick
  9. Tyler Reddick
  10. Christopher Bell

Stage 2 Top 10

  1. Ross Chastain
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Kyle Larson
  4. William Byron
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Christopher Bell
  7. Kevin Harvick
  8. Ryan Blaney
  9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  10. Martin Truex Jr.

Points Standings

  1. Ross Chastain – 429
  2. Christopher Bell – 402
  3. Kevin Harvick – 400
  4. Denny Hamlin – 393
  5. William Byron – 387
  6. Martin Truex Jr. – 385
  7. Ryan Blaney – 381
  8. Tyler Reddick – 371
  9. Brad Keselowski – 365
  10. Kyle Larson – 363
  11. Kyle Busch – 353
  12. Joey Logano – 334
  13. Chris Buescher – 329
  14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 325
  15. Bubba Wallace – 293
  16. Chase Briscoe – 275

  17. Daniel Suarez – 262
  18. Ty Gibbs – 260
  19. Austin Cindric – 248
  20. Michael McDowell – 241
  21. Todd Gilliland – 240
  22. Corey LaJoie – 238
  23. Justin Haley – 225
  24. Erik Jones – 221
  25. Aric Almirola – 221
  26. AJ Allmendinger – 214
  27. Chase Elliott – 212
  28. Ryan Preece – 201
  29. Harrison Burton – 176
  30. Austin Dillon – 166
  31. Noah Gragson – 138
  32. Ty Dillon – 110
  33. BJ McLeod – 70

Featured Image: DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – MAY 14: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Throwback Chevrolet, reacts after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 14, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Joey Logano achieves childhood dream win at Atlanta

Joey Logano outduelled former Penske teammate and two-time Atlanta winner Brad Keselowski in the final laps of the Ambetter Health 400 on Sunday, with a push from Christopher Bell down the backstretch helping Logano clear the pack to win for the first time at Atlanta in the Cup Series.

  • Race summary
  • Rest of race recap
  • Full race results
  • Points standings 

It was a dominant display from Logano, having nabbed the pole from Penske teammate Austin Cindric by 0.006 of a second on Saturday, and going on to lead the most laps in Sunday’s race, leading 140 of the 260 laps, and also winning stage one before taking the chequers.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The reigning Cup Series champion said: “Yeah, first off so special to win Atlanta for me. So many memories of me and my dad racing right here on the quarter mile. This is the full circle for us. So many memories gritting over there with the Legends car, racing, having a big time. Dreaming of going straight at the quarter mile and going onto the big track. That was always the dream to do it. To finally win here means so much to me here personally, but the team.”

The track has deep family ties for Logano, having lived at one of the condo’s at the race track for four years with his family whilst working his way through the racing ranks.

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Autotrader Ford, celebrates with his father, Tom Logano, after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo by Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

Logano and his Team Penske teammates executed a strong race plan all day long. After the trio qualified one-two-three for the race with Austin Cindric and Ryan Blaney qualifying second and third respectively, they helped Logano lead from the off. They stayed together for most of the race including in the final twenty laps where they persisted on the bottom lane, not allowing Brad Keselowski and the top lane to run away with the race.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #6 King’s Hawaiian Ford, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

With six laps to go it appeared all momentum and hope for Logano and Team Penske had been lost but a reenergized bottom lane put Logano back in contention.

On the final lap, Corey Lajoie bump-drafted Logano into turn one propelling Logano to lead the top lane and race side-by-side with Keselowski before Bell bumped him down the backstretch and into the lead.

Logano said: “The Auto Trader Mustang; this thing was an animal. Very, very fast.”

Runner-up Brad Keselowski furthered a dominant Ford display, with Ford having taken the top eight spots in qualifying, a feat that Ford hadn’t reached since 1965.

Keselowski looked in control of the race until he could no longer halt the momentum of Logano and raced cleanly to the chequered flag. Keselowski led the second most laps with 47.

Keselowski said: “The coolest thing about this race is two veterans showed you can run a race here side by side, bump-drafting, and not wreck the field. It can happen if you race respectfully. I thought everybody did a great job.”

Corey LaJoie had a career best fourth place finish after running inside the top 15 for the majority of the race.

Rest of race recap 

Joey Logano and Austin Cindric led the field to green for the third Atlanta race since the 2021 repave where the banking was raised to 28 degrees in both corners, as well narrowing the corners, turning the track into a downsized Daytona superspeedway with the cars using the same race package used for Daytona and Talladega.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, leads the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Logano led the first 10 laps before a caution came out for an out of control Bubba Wallace when he got loose on the outside next to Kyle Busch coming off turn two, before spinning across the track into the wall. Wallace was able to continue the race after repairs but would finish 27th five laps down.

Early on in stage one saw Kevin Harvick lead the bottom lane, but was not able to take the lead away from Logano for long. The NASCAR veteran was competing in his final Spring Atlanta race before retirement, the race of which he won in just his third Cup start 22 years ago, driving for Richard Childress, only three weeks after Childress and the NASCAR world suffered the loss of Dale Earnhardt Sr. 

It was single file for the second half of stage one with Logano comfortably taking the stage win.

Stage two briefly saw a six-car breakaway at the front, midway through the fuel run in Logano, Kyle Busch, Blaney, Keselowski, Chris Buescher, and Cindric, before the rest of the pack came back to them.

Green flag pit stops just after 70 laps into stage two saw Ryan Blaney who had been running second behind Logano receive a speeding penalty for driving too fast on the apron in turn four in what is now part of pit entry, after NASCAR doubled the length of pit road entry, after the drivers had voiced safety concerns of having no runoff for pitting under green with the new configuration.

After serving the drive-through penalty, Blaney ended up being three cars in front of Logano trying to prevent his No. 12 BodyArmor SportWater Ford going two laps down before the stage break.

Blaney held on, with Cindric pinching the stage two win coming off turn four. Blaney would get the free pass later in the final stage.

The final stage saw both lanes in use with Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin, and Harvick all taking turns to lead.

Disaster struck for Harvick when on lap 190, as he was sent around after Ross Chastain pushed air onto his rear bumper aggressively around the corner in turns one and two until Harvick’s car squirrelly lost control causing carnage for the field behind to avoid.

Buescher, Josh Berry, Daniel Suarez, Harrison Burton and BJ McLeod all got collected up in the mayhem.

 

Aric Almirola led the field back to green but on lap 209, on 72 lap old tyres, he blew a tyre in front of the pack, taking out Kyle Larson who was running second. Almirola had prior to the restart, gained 17 spots on pit road after taking fuel only under the caution.

The final 40 laps saw a duel between Logano and Keselowski, swapping the lead, before the duel intensified further with 13 laps to go.

Logano had help in his Penske teammates on the bottom, while the three Toyota’s in Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, and Denny Hamlin raced on the top, with Keselowski methodically blocking both lanes with help from his spotter TJ Majors.

Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 45 Xfinity 10G Network Toyota, and Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 20 DeWalt Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo by Jonathan Bachman | Getty Images)

Logano outduelled Keselowski on the final lap with help from LaJoie and Bell sending the Connecticut driver to victory lane at Atlanta for the first time in the Cup Series.

The next race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season is the 68-lap road-course race around Circuit of The Americas (COTA).

It’s a star-studded lineup for COTA’s Cup race with F1 champions Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen as well seven-time Cup Series champion as well as 2017 IMSA Champion Jordan Taylor all competing in the first road-course race of the season.

The race starts at 3:30pm ET.

Featured Image: Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Autotrader Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Photo by Jonathan Bachman | Getty Images)

Full race results 

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Christopher Bell
  4. Corey LaJoie
  5. Tyler Reddick
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Ryan Blaney
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Ty Gibbs
  10. Kyle Busch
  11. Austin Cindric
  12. Noah Gragson
  13. Ross Chastain
  14. Alex Bowman
  15. Todd Gilliland
  16. AJ Allmendinger
  17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  18. Josh Berry
  19. Martin Truex Jr.
  20. Austin Dillon
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. Justin Haley
  23. Ty Dillon
  24. Chase Briscoe
  25. Cody Ware
  26. JJ Yeley
  27. Bubba Wallace
  28. Ryan Preece
  29. Daniel Suarez
  30. Aric Almirola
  31. Kyle Larson
  32. William Byron
  33. Kevin Harvick
  34. Harrison Burton
  35. Chris Buescher
  36. BJ McLeod

Stage one 

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Austin Cindric
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Ryan Blaney
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Christopher Bell
  7. Kyle Busch
  8. Chris Buescher
  9. Daniel Suarez
  10. Martin Truex Jr.

Stage two

  1. Austin Cindric
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Alex Bowman
  4. Tyler Reddick
  5. William Byron
  6. Chris Buescher
  7. Martin Truex Jr.
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Brad Keselowski
  10. Corey LaJoie

Points standings after 5 of 36 races

  1. Joey Logano* – 177
  2. Christopher Bell – 176
  3. Ross Chastain – 172
  4. Ryan Blaney – 161
  5. Brad Keselowski – 160
  6. Kevin Harvick – `155
  7. Kyle Busch* – 153
  8. Martin Truex Jr. – 145
  9. Denny Hamlin – 140
  10. Daniel Suarez – 129
  11. Austin Cindric – 126
  12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* – 124
  13. Chris Buescher – 122
  14. Corey LaJoie – 113
  15. Tyler Reddick – 111
  16. Bubba Wallace – 102

  17. AJ Allmendinger – 92
  18. Michael McDowell – 92
  19. Ty Gibbs – 90
  20. Alex Bowman – 85
  21. Erik Jones – 82
  22. Austin Dillon – 80
  23. Chase Briscoe – 72
  24. Noah Gragson – 68
  25. Todd Gilliland – 68
  26. Ryan Preece – 63
  27. Aric Almirola – 63
  28. William Byron* – 55
  29. Harrison Burton – 51
  30. Cody Ware – 50
  31. Chase Elliott – 49
  32. Kyle Larson – 43
  33. Ty Dillon – 31
  34. BJ McLeod – 27
  35. Travis Pastrana – 26
  36. Jimmie Johnson – 10

William Byron hits the jackpot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

William Byron dominated Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, leading 176 of the 267 laps, sweeping all three stages, and passing Martin Truex Jr. in overtime to take his first Cup win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Byron had battled hard with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson all race long for control of the lead and just pipped the Larson to the pit road exit line, seeing him line-up alongside Truex Jr. for the overtime restart, who gambled to stay out on old tyres.

  • Race summary 
  • Full race results
  • Points standings 

Byron said: “Yeah, just happy with getting the first win of the year. It’s been a while since we’ve won. It’s been almost a year, and it’s nice to kind of just get back to what I feel like we’re capable of.”

William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 05, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Byron was part of Hendrick Motorsports’ third one-two-three finish in the teams Cup Series career with Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman finishing second and third respectively, finishing the race how they ended stage two. Hendrick’s previous one-two-three finish came in the 2021 spring Dover race where it was also Hendrick’s first one-two-three-four finish with Byron finishing fourth and Alex Bowman taking the spoils that day.

Race summary

Byron first took the lead on lap 10 from pole-sitter Joey Logano. From then on it was mostly smooth sailing for the first stage with Larson keeping tabs on the Charlotte, North Carolinian finishing just under a second behind him.

Stage two was a carbon copy for both drivers with Larson once again finishing second in stage two under a second behind Byron. The final stage saw the roles reversed with Byron losing places on pit road under caution on lap 184, and starting fourth on the restart with Larson in third.

William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 05, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Larson was all over Denny Hamlin, who had stayed out on older tyres, for the lead and finally claimed top spot in the running order with 71 laps to go. Larson pulled out a five second-plus gap to Byron over the course of the final stage but this was eradicated when the caution came out with four to go in response to Aric Almirola sliding into a spin against the turn four wall.

At the time of caution Byron had halved the gap down to 2.4 seconds but it looked like a tall-order to have caught Larson without the Californian making a mistake or traffic getting in the way before they yellow flags waved.

Larson was only able to clear Truex Jr. with half a lap to go on the backstretch to finish runner-up.

Larson commented: “It seems like kind of laps down, lap by lap, and then, sure enough, the yellow lights come on. I had a gap to William behind me, and their pit crew must have just done a really good job and got out in front of us, and that gave up the front row. I knew I was in trouble with the 19 staying out.”

William Byron held off teammates Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson at the end of Sunday’s Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, sealing a 1-2-3 sweep for the organization on March 5, 2023 (Photo by Getty Images)

A dominant display by Hendrick comes on the week of teammate and 2020 NASCAR Cup champion Chase Elliott being forced to sit out indefinitely after fracturing his tibia in a snowboarding accident in Colorado last Friday.

Team owner Rick Hendrick speaking on Friday about NASCAR’s most popular driver said: “Chase’s health is our primary concern. He’s understandably disappointed to miss time in the car.”

JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry stood in for Elliott on Sunday, finishing 29th, two laps down, in his first race in the Next Gen car.

Josh Berry leans on No. 9 Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Photo by Zack Albert | NASCAR Studios)

Bubba Wallace had a stand-out day running inside the top ten for most of the race, taking sixth in stage two and eighth in stage one, and coming home fourth. After not finishing either of the first two races of the season, it’s a much needed boost of confidence and points for the No. 23 team.

Wallace said: “Never stop fighting. You never give up. I almost come over the radio and said, hey, good job, we finished sixth, then the caution came out, and I perked up again and got some.”

Wallace’s teammate Tyler Reddick had a wild day after marching up to 19th, just 11 laps after starting the race in the rear. Reddick nearly let a good points day get away when inside of 65 laps to go,  he ripped the turns three and four wall running sixth, sending him back to tenth. Reddick would finish 15th, after coming into the weekend with just four points after being wrecked out of the first two races.

Sunday’s pole-sitter Joey Logano and last week’s Auto Club finale winner Kyle Busch both difficult races.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 05, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

After losing the lead on lap 10 to Byron, Logano fought a tight handling race car for the first half of the race, clinging onto the top 15.

The two-time Pennzoil 400 winner asked a little too much of his No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang on lap 182, when while he was battling three-wide on the outside with Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch  coming off turn four over 14th place, he ran out of real estate, colliding with the wall before spinning across the track into the infield grass. Logano’s team were not able to fix the car under the damage vehicle policy in time, forcing him to retire.

Kyle Busch made contact with the yellow outside walls several times during the race including twice in stage one, once clattering the turn two wall hard, bending the steering angle whilst challenging Hamlin for ninth place, but was able to continue.

 

The Las Vegas native wound up 14th in a weekend where he had attempted to sweep all three national series races taking place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, trying to replicate his Bristol Motor Speedway’s 2010 and 2017 weekend sweeps. 

Busch won the Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday driving for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team but could only manage fourth in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race driving for Kaulig Racing.  

Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Zariz Transport Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway this Sunday, with the race starting at 3:30pm ET.

Featured Image: William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 05, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) 

Full race results

  1. William Byron
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Alex Bowman
  4. Bubba Wallace
  5. Christopher Bell
  6. Austin Cindric
  7. Martin Truex Jr.
  8. Justin Haley
  9. Kevin Harvick
  10. Daniel Suarez
  11. Denny Hamlin
  12. Ross Chastain
  13. Ryan Blaney
  14. Kyle Busch
  15. Tyler Reddick
  16. Aric Almirola
  17. Brad Keselowski
  18. AJ Allmendinger
  19. Erik Jones
  20. Corey LaJoie
  21. Chris Buescher
  22. Ty Gibbs
  23. Ryan Preece
  24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  25. Michael McDowell
  26. Harrison Burton
  27. Austin Dillon
  28. Chase Briscoe
  29. Josh Berry
  30. Noah Gragson
  31. Todd Gilliland
  32. BJ McLeod
  33. JJ Yeley
  34. Ty Dillon
  35. Cody Ware
  36. Joey Logano

Stage one 

  1. William Byron
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Ross Chastain
  4. Christopher Bell
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Martin Truex Jr.
  7. Alex Bowman
  8. Bubba Wallace
  9. Kyle Busch
  10. Brad Keselowski

Stage two 

  1. William Byron
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Alex Bowman
  4. Martin Truex Jr.
  5. Christopher Bell
  6. Bubba Wallace
  7. Ross Chastain
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Brad Keselowski
  10. Kevin Harvick

Points standings 

  1. Ross Chastain – 129
  2. Alex Bowman – 126
  3. Kevin Harvick – 108
  4. Daniel Suarez – 104
  5. Martin Truex Jr. – 102
  6. Denny Hamlin – 99
  7. Christopher Bell – 94
  8. Kyle Busch* – 92
  9. Joey Logano – 92
  10. Chris Buescher – 90
  11. Brad Keselowski – 87
  12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* – 86
  13. William Byron* – 85
  14. Kyle Larson – 85
  15. Ryan Blaney – 81
  16. Bubba Wallace – 69

  17. Austin Cindric – 69
  18. Corey LaJoie – 68
  19. AJ Allmendinger – 54
  20. Ty Gibbs – 53
  21. Aric Almirola – 52
  22. Michael McDowell – 52
  23. Justin Haley – 50
  24. Chase Elliott – 49
  25. Harrison Burton – 46
  26. Austin Dillon – 42
  27. Todd Gilliland – 41
  28. Erik Jones – 37
  29. Cody Ware – 35
  30. Noah Gragson – 35
  31. Ryan Preece – 29
  32. Chase Briscoe – 28
  33. Travis Pastrana – 26
  34. Tyler Reddick – 26
  35. BJ McLeod – 25
  36. JJ Yeley – 18
  37. Ty Dillon – 10
  38. Jimmie Johnson – 10

Kyle Busch wins final Auto Club Speedway Cup race in Rowdy fashion

Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 saw Kyle Busch outrun Chase Elliott’s late race charge to win NASCAR’s final Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in its two-mile superspeedway format before being taken off the schedule to be reconfigured most likely into a short track of one mile or less.  

  • Race summary
  • Rest of race recap
  • Full race results
  • Point standings

Kyle Busch’s first win of the 2023 Cup Series season, in just his second points paying race with Richard Childress Racing, sees him go above Richard Petty for the most consecutive seasons with at least one win, making it 19-consecutive seasons, starting in 2005.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by Meg Oliphant | Getty Images)

Busch mirrored his previous triumph here when he won the 2005 Auto Club Cup race, his first Cup win, in just his fourth start for Hendrick Motorsports.

Talking on the frontstretch after the race Busch said: “I death gripped that wheel throughout the second half of that race, we held on man, we got it today.”

The four-time Fontana winner teared back through the field in what seemed like a handful of laps, after being penalised and sent to the rear for speeding on pit road on lap 43 under caution, after running inside the top 10.

Busch took the lead of the race for the first time with 63 laps to go, then again with 36 laps to go after passing Chastain through the green flag pit cycle and then again following green flag pit stops on lap 180 of the 200-lap race where he would stay.

Busch added: “I’ve worked with a lot of great people who’ve given me a lot of great opportunities in my career. It’s awesome to be able to reward them.”

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by Meg Oliphant | Getty Images)

It was Busch’s 61st Cup career win, ninth-all time.

The track proved to entertain much like last year with drivers using all five lanes to race and search for clean air, but this time without any sudden tyre failures.

It was Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain that spent the most time upfront, winning both stages convincingly, leading the most laps with 91 and coming home third. He has won three of the four stages this year, including winning stage two of last week’s Daytona 500.

Chastain’s teammate Daniel Suarez showed speed, racing in the top 10, and was looking for a way past Chastain for the lead on the opening laps of a stage one restart. Suarez finished fourth.

Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by Meg Oliphant | Getty Images)

Chase Elliott was in the mix during the second half of the race, slowly working his way through the top 10 until he got past Chastain for second with 21 laps to go and narrowed the gap to Busch down to 3.4 seconds before the gap levelled out. Elliott finished 2.998-seconds behind Busch.

Joey Logano had been a contender for most of the race, taking the lead multiple times from Chastain and Hamlin, until the final stint following green flag pit stops with under 40 laps to go, where he dropped back throughout the final run to finish 10th.

It had been the Chastain-Logano-Busch show previous to final green flag pit stops. With 55 laps to go, Chastain threw an aggressive block on Logano when he and Busch got stalled out side-by-side for the lead, but Logano swept down to the apron and cleared both going into turn one.

Rest of race recap

Saturday’s qualifying was cancelled due to a historic weather event that swept the racetrack including blizzard-like conditions of snow, sleet and wind, hitting Fontana and the surrounding LA area Friday and Saturday.

A five-wide salute was shown to the sell-out crowd on the warm-up laps in appreciation of their continued support and love given to Auto Club Speedway.

Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Sirius XM Toyota, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, driver of the #47 Ralphs/Tree Top Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 AAA Southern California Ford, Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, and Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Pala Casino Ford, in a five-wide salute to the fans prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 26, 2023 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

It was Bakersfield, California’s Kevin Harvick 750th straight Cup start, only behind Jeff Gordon and Ricky Rudd for all-time.

JGR’s Christopher Bell led from the off after being awarded the pole due to having the best fastest lap speed and finishing position combination from last week’s Daytona 500.

Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Sirius XM Toyota, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr, driver of the #47 Ralphs/Tree Top Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 26, 2023 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Alex Bowman, who finished eighth, took the lead on lap two going into turn one and went straight to the top groove while the rest of the field searched all over the race track for grip.

A lack of rubber being laid down prior to the race due to the weather, saw everyone run the top groove following Bowman but before long drivers throughout the field were diving to the middle and bottom lanes again to find extra speed and clean air while the top was still preferred.

A general view of racing during the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 26, 2023 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

On lap 13, Kyle Larson, last year’s Fontana winner, came down pit road and went to the garage to fix an electrical problem. Larson did go back out but was not operating under full power. The Cali kid finished 29th, 15 laps down.

Chastain took over the lead on pit road during the competition caution period on lap 17.

Team Penske’s Logano and Ryan Blaney traded the lead after surpassing Chastain before Brad Keselowski was sent spinning down the back straightaway after Corey LaJoie tagged his left rear on lap 42.

Keselowski was running 13th place at the time and came back to finish seventh, in what was a solid day for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing with teammate Chris Buescher running inside the top 10 throughout the race before finishing 13th.

Blaney and Suarez kept Chastain honest at the end of the first stage but it wasn’t enough to beat the eighth-generation watermelon farmer to the finish line.

Denny Hamlin passed Chastain for the lead on lap 72 before he threw an aggressive block three-laps later on Logano, much like Chastain would later on in the race, but Logano dived to the inside to take the lead on the frontstretch.

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 AAA Southern California Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Sport Clips Haircuts Toyota, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by Meg Oliphant | Getty Images)

Austin Dillon and Noah Gragson briefly led during stage two after staying out on older tyres before Logano seized back the lead.

Corey LaJoie continued to find himself in trouble. On lap 76, he clipped AJ Allmendinger trying to avoid Blaney and Stenhouse Jr. in front, sending the Californian skidding into the inside wall on the backstretch.

LaJoie became the victim of the next caution several laps later when Tyler Reddick ran into the back of him sending him into the infield grass.

The biggest incident of the day was yet to come. On the lap 86 restart a 10-car crash occurred when the field stacked up sending Ty Dillon spinning into the grass, and Bell, Reddick, Preece, and Almirola crashing into the pack among others.

All four except Ty Dillon would retire from the race, only for Dillon to retire later with 61 laps to go due to engine trouble. Blaney received heavy damage from the crash and had to settle for 26th.

Kyle Busch would take second away from former teammate Hamlin on lap 93 while Chastain led. Busch was filling Chastain’s mirrors inside of 20 to go in stage two; a blanket could be thrown over second to sixth place in the closing laps. Chastain won stage two with a six second lead over Busch.

Kevin Harvick, in his final season before retiring, got the lead on pit road during the stage break before Kyle Busch took the lead for the first time on lap 138.

Michael McDowell led for a handful of laps during the final green flag run as he held out for a caution compared to most of the field pitting 10+ laps earlier. On fresher tyres following his final pit stop, McDowell managed to finish 18th.

Bubba Wallace spent the first half of the race inside the top 15, often inside the top 10, but overheating issues would force him out of the race on lap 172.

The third race of the season sees the Cup Series go to the 1.5 mile speedway Las Vegas Motor Speedway this Sunday, Kyle Busch’s home track, for the Pennzoil 400 with the race starting at 3:30pm ET.

Full race results 

  1. Kyle Busch, 200
  2. Chase Elliott, 200
  3. Ross Chastain, 200
  4. Daniel Suarez, 200
  5. Kevin Harvick, 200
  6. Denny Hamlin, 200
  7. Brad Keselowski, 200
  8. Alex Bowman, 200
  9. Austin Dillon, 200
  10. Joey Logano, 200
  11. Martin Truex Jr., 200
  12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 200
  13. Chris Buescher, 200
  14. Corey LaJoie, 200
  15. Harrison Burton, 200
  16. Ty Gibbs, 200
  17. Todd Gilliland, 200
  18. Michael McDowell, 200
  19. Erik Jones, 200
  20. Chase Briscoe, 200
  21. Justin Haley, 199
  22. Noah Gragson, 199
  23. JJ Yeley, 199
  24. BJ McLeod, 199
  25. William Byron, 198
  26. Ryan Blaney, 196
  27. Cody Ware, 195
  28. Austin Cindric, 194
  29. Kyle Larson, 185
  30. Bubba Wallace, Engine, 172
  31. Ty Dillon, Engine, 140
  32. Christopher Bell, Accident, 88
  33. Ryan Preece, Accident, 87
  34. Tyler Reddick, Accident, 87
  35. Aric Almirola, Accident, 86
  36. AJ Allmendinger, Accident, 75

Stage 1 

  1. Ross Chastain
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Daniel Suarez
  4. Alex Bowman
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. William Byron
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Kevin Harvick
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Chase Elliott

Stage 2 

  1. Ross Chastain
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Joey Logano
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Daniel Suarez
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Chase Elliott
  8. Alex Bowman
  9. Brad Keselowski
  10. Corey LaJoie

Points standings 

  1. Ross Chastain – 92
  2. Joey Logano – 91
  3. Alex Bowman – 80
  4. Kevin Harvick – 79
  5. Daniel Suarez – 77
  6. Chris Buescher – 74
  7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* – 73
  8. Kyle Busch* – 67
  9. Denny Hamlin – 64
  10. Brad Keselowski – 64
  11. Martin Truex Jr. – 60
  12. Ryan Blaney – 57
  13. Corey LaJoie – 51
  14. Chase Elliott – 49
  15. Christopher Bell – 49
  16. Michael McDowell – 40

  17. Ty Gibbs – 38
  18. Austin Cindric – 38
  19. AJ Allmendinger – 35
  20. Harrison Burton – 35
  21. Todd Gilliland – 35
  22. Cody Ware – 33
  23. Austin Dillon – 32
  24. Kyle Larson – 32
  25. Aric Almirola – 31
  26. Bubba Wallace – 28
  27. Noah Gragson – 28
  28. Travis Pastrana – 26
  29. William Byron – 25
  30. Justin Haley – 21
  31. BJ McLeod – 20
  32. Erik Jones – 19
  33. Chase Briscoe – 19
  34. Ryan Preece – 15
  35. J.J. Yeley – 14
  36. Jimmie Johnson – 10
  37. Ty Dillon – 7
  38. Tyler Reddick – 4

Featured Image: Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by Meg Oliphant | Getty Images)

2023 Daytona 500; starting lineup, paint schemes, schedule

This Sunday the NASCAR Cup Series’ regular season gets underway at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida, for the 65th running of the Daytona 500 on its 75th anniversary. 40 cars will compete in the Great American Race in front of a sold out crowd for 200 laps (500 miles), in a bid to win one of NASCAR’s most prestigious prizes, the Harley J. Earl Trophy and forever immortalise themselves in the history books on stock car racing’s biggest day. 

  • Schedule
  • Starting lineup/paint schemes
  • Starting lineup summary

Schedule

Multi-platinum American country singer Dierks Bentley will host this year’s pre-race concert starting at 1:30pm ET.  Pre-race ceremonies for Sunday’s Great American Race begin at 2:45pm ET, with the green flag flying at 3:14pm ET.

For viewers in the UK, the race programme will be shown on ViaPlay Sports starting 6:30pm UK time.

Daytona 500 starting lineup

Here is how the 40-car field will lineup for the 2023 Daytona 500.

1st. On pole is Alex Bowman after setting a blistering lap speed of 181.686mph to secure his third career Daytona 500 pole. The Hendrick Motorsports driver started second in last year’s race. The No. 48 Ally Chevrolet driver will try to get Mr. Hendrick his first Daytona 500 win since Dale Earnhardt Jr’s 2014 win; NASCAR’s most popular driver from 2003-2017 and son of the late seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

2nd. Joining Bowman on the front row will be Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson. The 2021 Cup Series champion, and last year’s Daytona 500 pole winner will be piloting the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet.

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

3rd. Starting third is the reigning two-time Cup Series champion Joey Logano after winning the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 on Thursday night. The 2015 Daytona winner will drive the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford for Team Penske.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

4th. Starting fourth is the 2014 Daytona Summer winner (Coke Zero 400), Aric Almirola after winning the second Bluegreen Vacations duel. Almirola was due to retire at the end of last season but was persuaded to stay on at Stewart-Haas Racing. He will drive the No. 10 Smithfield Ford.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

5th. Starting fifth is the Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell making his fourth Daytona 500 start. While not having won a race on the Daytona oval in NASCAR’s national series, Bell did get his first Cup win at Daytona in the Daytona Road Course in 2021.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 DeWalt/Rheem Toyota, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

6th. The reigning Daytona 500 champion Austin Cindric will start sixth. Cindric, now in his second full-time season will pilot the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske.

Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

7th. Starting seventh is Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney. The 2018 Daytona duel one winner and two-time Daytona 500 runner up will drive the No. 12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford.

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

8th. Joining Blaney on the fourth row is the 2020 Cup Series champion and 2018 Daytona duel two winner Chase Elliott. He will drive the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

9th. Starting from the fifth row in ninth place is last year’s Daytona duel two winner Chris Buescher. The Texas native will drive the No. 17 Fastenal Ford for Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

10th. Rounding out the fifth row in tenth is the 2016 Coke Zero 400 winner Brad Keselowski. Still looking for his first Daytona 500 win, Keselowski will pilot the No. 6 Nexlizet Ford.

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #6 Nexlizet Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

11th. Starting 11th is the 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell. He will drive the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops for Front Row Motorsports.

Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

12th. Starting 12th in his eighth Daytona 500 is Corey LaJoie. LaJoie has a best finish of eighth in the 2020 Daytona 500. He will pilot the No. 7 Celsius Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports.

Corey LaJoie, driver of the #7 Celsius Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

13th. Starting 13th is the 2007 Daytona 500 winner and 2014 Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. He will drive the No. 4 Busch Light Ford.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

14th. Starting 14th, making his second Daytona 500 start is Todd Gilliland. He will drive the No. 38 gener8tor Skills Ford for Front Row Motorsports.

Todd Gilliland, driver of the #38 gener8tor Skills Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

15th. Starting 15th is the 2018 and 2022 Daytona 500 runner up Bubba Wallace. Wallace won the rain shortened autumn Talladega race in 2021, becoming the first African-American driver to win a Cup race since Wendell Scott in 1963. Wallace will drive the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota for 23XI Racing.

Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

16th. Starting 16th is the 2016 Daytona 500 runner up Martin Truex Jr. The 2017 Cup Series champion will drive the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

17th. Starting in 17th place is the reigning Craftsman Truck Series Champion Zane Smith, making his second Daytona 500 start. He will be piloting the No. 36 Wellcare Ford for Front Row Motorsports.

Zane Smith, driver of the #36 Wellcare Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

18th. Starting 18th is the three-time Daytona 500 champion (2016, 2019, ’20) Denny Hamlin. He will be joining Cale Yarbrough for second-all time Daytona 500 wins if he takes the chequered flag on Sunday.  Hamlin will drive the No. 11 FedEx 50 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx 50 Toyota, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

19th. Starting 19th is Harrison Burton, making his second Daytona 500 start in his second full-time season. The son of 21-time Cup winner Jeff Burton will drive the famed Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford.

Harrison Burton, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

20th. Making up the tenth row in 20th, in his fourth Daytona 500 start is Ryan Preece. Preece has a best finish of sixth coming in the 2021 Daytona 500. Preece will drive the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Ryan Preece, driver of the #41 HaasTooling.com Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

21st. Starting 21st is the last of the Hendrick Chevrolet’s in William Byron. The 2020 Coke Zero 400 winner was third fastest in single-car qualifying ahead of Thursday’s duels. He will drive the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

William Byron, driver of the #24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

22nd. Starting 22nd is the first of the Legacy Motor Club cars in Noah Gragson, in his full-time rookie season and second Daytona 500 start. He will drive the No. 42 Wendy’s Chevrolet.

Noah Gragson, driver of the #42 Wendy’s Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

23rd. Starting 23rd is the Hail Melon man, Ross Chastain, making his fifth Daytona 500 start. He has a best finish of seventh from the 2021 Daytona 500 race. The Florida native won last year’s spring Talladega race. He will drive the No. 1 AdventHealth Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing.

Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 AdventHealth Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

24th. Starting alongside Chastain in 24th is his Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez. The Mexican-born driver will be making his sixth Daytona 500 start. Suarez made history last year when he became the first Mexican to win a NASCAR Cup Series race when he took the chequered flag at Sonoma Raceway. He will pilot the No. 99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet.

Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

25th. Starting 25th is the 2018 Coke Zero 400 and 2020 Daytona Clash winner Erik Jones. He will drive the No. 43 Guns N’ Roses Chevrolet for Legacy Motor Club, who of which is co-owned by seven all-time Daytona 500 winner Richard Petty.

Erik Jones, driver of the #43 GUNS N’ ROSES Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

26th. Starting 26th is the 2018 spring Daytona Xfinity Series race winner Tyler Reddick. He will drive the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota for 23XI Racing.

Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

27th. Starting 27th is the 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. He will drive the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Club Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

28th. Starting 28th in his third Daytona 500 start is Justin Haley. Haley won the rain shortened Coke Zero 400 in 2019 when his team gambled correctly to stay out.

Justin Haley, driver of the #31 Cirkul Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

29th. Starting 29th in his 10th Daytona 500 start is AJ Allmendinger. Allmendinger, driving full-time since 2018, for Kaulig Racing, will pilot the No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet.

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

30th. Rounding out the fifteenth row in 30th is Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe. Briscoe finished third in last year’s Daytona 500. He will drive the No, 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Chase Briscoe, driver of the #14 Mahindra Tractors Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

31st. Starting 31st is the 2017 Coke Zero 400 race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He will drive the No. 47 Kroger/Cottonelle Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger/Cottonelle Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

32nd. Starting 32nd in his fifth Daytona 500 start is BJ McLeod. He will drive the No. 78 Power Slap Rumble Chevrolet for Live Fast Motorsports.

BJ McLeod, driver of the #78 Power Slap Rumble Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

33rd. Starting 33rd is the reigning Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs, driving in his first full-time for his grandfather Joe Gibbs, making his first Daytona 500. He will drive the No. 54 Monster Energy/Interstate Batteries Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Ty Gibbs, driver of the #54 Monster Energy/Interstate Batteries Toyota, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

34th. Starting 34th is Conor Daly, after dramatically qualifying his way into the Daytona 500 during the second duel race where he kept out of trouble enough to make the race. Daly, who led laps in last year’s Indy 500, in his first Daytona 500 start will pilot the No. 50 BitNile.com Chevrolet for The Money Team Racing.

35th. Starting 35th in his fourth Daytona 500 is Cody Ware. He will drive the No. 51 Biohaven/Jacob Co. Ford for Rick Ware Racing.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Cody Ware, driver of the #51 Biohaven/Jacob Co. Ford, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

36th. Originally starting 36th is the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. Busch had to go to a backup car after spinning out off of the front of Suarez’s car during the duel race . Following NASCAR procedure for going to a backup car, he will move to the back for the start of the race. The Daytona 500 victory has eluded Kyle Busch, having won the 2008 Coke Zero 400, three Daytona duels and the 2012 Daytona clash. He will drive the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 3CHI Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

37th. Starting 37th in his eighth Daytona 500 start is Ty Dillon. Dillon has a best place finish of sixth from the 2019 Daytona 500. Dillon will pilot the No. 77 Ferris Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports.

Ty Dillon, driver of the #77 Ferris Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

38th. Starting 38th in his first Daytona 500 start is Riley Herbst. Herbst will drive the No. 15 Sunny D Ford for Rick Ware Racing.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 15: Riley Herbst, driver of the #15 SunnyD Ford,poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

39th. Making up the first of two cars on the back is no other than seven-time Cup champion and the 2006 and ’13 Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson. Johnson locked himself in during single-car qualifying and is driving for his co-owned team Legacy Motor Club. He also topped the speed charts in the first of two practice sessions. He will drive the No. 84 Carvana Chevrolet.

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #84 Carvana Chevrolet, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

40th. Last, but certainly not least is X-Games gold medallist and Hoonigan stunt driver Travis Pastrana. Pastrana, who also locked himself into the race through single-car qualifying will be making his first Daytona 500 start. He will pilot the No. 40 Black Rifle Coffee Toyota for 23XI Racing.

Travis Pastrana, driver of the #67 Black Rifle Coffee Toyota, poses on the track during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Starting lineup summary

  1. Alex Bowman
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Joey Logano
  4. Aric Almirola
  5. Christopher Bell
  6. Austin Cindric
  7. Ryan Blaney
  8. Chase Elliott
  9. Chris Buescher
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Michael McDowell
  12. Corey LaJoie
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Todd Gilliland
  15. Bubba Wallace
  16. Martin Truex Jr.
  17. Zane Smith
  18. Denny Hamlin
  19. Harrison Burton
  20. Ryan Preece
  21. William Byron
  22. Noah Gragson
  23. Ross Chastain
  24. Daniel Suarez
  25. Erik Jones
  26. Tyler Reddick
  27. Austin Dillon
  28. Justin Haley
  29. AJ Allmendinger
  30. Chase Briscoe
  31. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  32. BJ McLeod
  33. Ty Gibbs
  34. Conor Daly
  35. Cody Ware
  36. Kyle Busch
  37. Ty Dillon
  38. Riley Herbst
  39. Jimmie Johnson
  40. Travis Pastrana

The 65th running of the Daytona 500 starts at 2:30pm ET!

Featured Image: Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, and Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, race to the finish of the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

 

 

2023 Daytona 500 Preview

This Sunday the NASCAR Cup Series’ regular season gets underway at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida, for the 65th running of the Daytona 500 on its 75th anniversary. 40 cars will compete in the Great American Race in front of a sold out crowd at speeds over 200mph, inches apart from each other for 200 laps, in a bid to win one of NASCAR’s most prestigious prizes, the Harley J. Earl Trophy and forever immortalise themselves in the history books on stock car racing’s biggest day. 

  • Schedule
  • Drivers to watch 
  • Schedule summary
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion celebrating with the Harley J. Earl Trophy after winning the 2015 Daytona 500 on February 22nd, 2015, at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

42 drivers have entered  into the 500-mile 200 lap race around the 2.5-mile superspeedway with seven part-time entries including seven-time Cup Series champion and Legacy Motor Club co-owner Jimmie Johnson and X Games gold medallist and Hoonigan driver Travis Pastrana.

Last year saw Team Penske rookie Austin Cindric win the Daytona 500 on his full-time debut. It was the first time a rookie has won the Daytona 500 since Trevor Bayne in 2011, driving for Wood Brothers Racing.

Schedule  

There are 36 chartered cars in this year’s Daytona 500 meaning they are guaranteed a spot in the race regardless of where they qualify. There are four spots available for non-chartered cars to claim with six entering meaning two will fail to qualify for this year’s race. Two cars will able to secure their spot from single car qualifying while the remaining two spots will be decided in the duels.

The NASCAR Cup Cars will run single car qualifying on Wednesday at 8pm ET where in round one they will run a single timed lap attempting to lay down a top-10 lap to get through to the final round where they will set another single timed lap in an attempt to secure the pole for the Great American Race.

The top two from single car qualifying will keep their starting positions on the front row for the Daytona 500 regardless of where they finish in their duel race. Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson scored the pole in last year’s event with teammate Alex Bowman qualifying second.

16: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, pose in Ruoff Victory Lane after qualifying on the front row for the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Bluegreen Vacations Duels, the two qualifying 60-lap races, will be run on Thursday starting at 7pm ET. The finishing positions determine where the drivers will start the Daytona 500, and which two non-chartered cars will go home. Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher won last year’s duels.

As and added incentive, the top 10 in each duel race will receive points; 10 for finishing first, nine for second and so on all the way down to receiving one point for finishing 10th.

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #6 Kohler Generators Ford, Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford, and Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duel #1 at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

On Friday the Cup Series will have the first of two 50-minute practice sessions starting at 5:35pm ET before the NextEra Energy 250, the Craftsman Truck Series 100-lap night race, starting at 7:30pm ET.

18: John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the #4 Pye-Barker Fire & Safety Toyota, Tyler Ankrum, driver of the #16 LiUNA! Toyota, andDerek Kraus, driver of the #19 Shockwave Chevrolet, spins after an on-track incident as Zane Smith, driver of the #38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, Christian Eckes, driver of the #98 AHI Facility Services/Curb Records Toyota, and Ben Rhodes, driver of the #99 EXT Extreme Hair Therapy Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Saturday sees the Cup Series have its final 50-minute practice session starting at 10:30am ET before the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner 300, the Xfinity Series 120-lap race, starting at 5pm ET.

Daniel Hemric, driver of the #11 AG1 Athletic Greens Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Sunday sees the biggest day in stock car racing with the 65th running of the Daytona 500 starting at 2:30pm ET in front of a sold out crowd for the eighth year running. The 200-lap race will be broken down into three stages of 65,65 and 70 laps respectively.

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Drivers to watch

Jimmie Johnson

Two-time Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson will attempt to win the Daytona 500 for a third time to join the likes of three-time Daytona 500 champions Denny Hamlin and old Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon in the history books. He will drive the No. 84 Carvana Chevrolet for Legacy Motor Club. He has to qualify his way into the race due to having an non-chartered car.

Travis Pastrana

Travis Pastrana, the legendary Hoonigan stunt performer and Nitro RallyCross series founder will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 as a third entry for 23XI Racing driving the No. 67 Black Rifle Coffee Toyota.

Pastrana said: “I’m thrilled at the chance to race in the Daytona 500. It’s the one event every year that all my friends and family come together to watch at our buddy Dale’s house and it’s an event I’ve wanted to race my entire life.”

He has competed in five Craftsman Truck Series races and 42 Xfinity Series races and has raced at Daytona three times before in NACAR’s national series including finishing 10th in the 2013 Xfinity Series Daytona season-opener.

Conor Daly

Conor Daly, who competes full-time in the NTT IndyCar Series, will also attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 with The Money Team Racing which is co-owned by boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, sporting the No. 50 BitNile.com Chevrolet. Daly has one Cup start to his name, competing in last year’s Charlotte Roval race where he finished 34th.

Ty Gibbs

Rookie Ty Gibbs will make his first start for his grandfather’s team Joe Gibbs Racing competing full-time, replacing two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. The reigning Xfinity Series champion will be driving the No. 54 Monster Energy/Interstates Batteries Toyota.

Ty Gibbs is racing with a heavy heart after his dad, a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing family, Coy Gibbs, suddenly passed away the day after he won the Xfinity Series title last November. Ty made 15 Cup starts last year after subbing for Kurt Busch where he earned one top-10 at Michigan.

Noah Gragson

Rookie Noah Gragson will drive the No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Wendy’s Chevrolet in what will be his second Daytona 500 start. Gragson is in his first full-time Cup season, after 18 Cup races last year with the majority being with Kaulig Racing. The 13-times Xfinity Series winner was runner up to Ty Gibbs last season championship finale in Phoenix.

Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin will be going for a fourth Daytona 500 victory with Joe Gibbs Racing, sporting the FedEx 50 Toyota. Hamlin won the 2016, ’19, and 2020 Daytona 500’s with JGR.

Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace will compete in his sixth Daytona 500, racing the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota for Denny Hamlin’s and Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing. The Alabama native will hope to finish one place better after being the 2018 and 2022 runner-up. If Wallace wins this year’s race, he would become the first African-American to have done so.

Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, and Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald’s Toyota, race to the finish of the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick

This will be Kevin Harvick’s final Daytona 500 driver as a full-time Cup driver after announcing his retirement in the off-season. Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 when he pipped fan-favourite Mark Martin at the finish line. Harvick will drive No. 4 Busch Light Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Kevin Harvick beats Mark Martin by two-hundreths of a second to win the Daytona 500 (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Austin Hill

Austin Hill, the 2022 Daytona Xfinity Series race winner, will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 for Beard Motorsports and will pilot the No. 62 Bennett Transportation and Logistics Chevrolet. He made his Cup debut at last August’s Michigan race in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Bennett Transportation and Logistics sponsored Chevrolet where he impressively finished 18th.

Zane Smith

23-year-old Zane Smith, the 2022 Craftsman Truck Series champion, will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 with Front Row Motorsports driving the No. 36 Wellcare Ford. Smith impressed the NASCAR garage when he subbed for RFK’s Chris Buescher last season, finishing 17th on his Cup debut at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Chandler Smith

Rookie Chandler Smith, the five-time Craftsman Truck Series winner, will attempt to qualify for his first Daytona 500 with Kaulig Racing driving the No. 13 Quick Tie Inc. Chevrolet. The 20-year-old is racing full-time in the Xfinity Series for Kaulig Racing this season.

Austin Cindric

Austin Cindric will hope to go back to back in this year’s edition of the Great American race, joining Denny Hamlin and Sterling Marlin who did it in 2019 and 2020, and 1994 and ’95 respectively. Cindric will drive the No. 2 Discount Tire Team Penske Ford.

Austin Cindric, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in the Ruoff Mortgage victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Riley Herbst

Rookie Riley Herbst will race in his first Daytona 500 and first Cup start with Rick Ware Racing, sporting the No. 15 Sunny D Ford. The Las Vegas native has competed in 109 Xfinity races, bagging 54 top-10 finishes.

Herbst said: “It’s such a big event and for it be my first Cup start will be a crazy experience. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do behind the wheel.”

Catch the 65th running of the Daytona 500 this Sunday at 2:30pm ET!

Schedule summary 

Wednesday 8:15pm ET – Cup Series single car qualifying

Thursday 7pm ET –  Bluegreen Vacations Duels (Cup Series two 60-lap qualifying races)

Friday 5:35pm ET – 1st Cup Series 50 minute practice session

Friday 7pm ET – NextEra Energy 250 (Craftsman Truck Series 100-lap race) 

Saturday 10:30am ET – 2nd Cup Series 50 minute practice session 

Saturday 5pm ET – Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 (Xfinity Series 120-lap race) 

Sunday 2:30pm ET – 65th running of the Daytona 500 (Cup Series 200-lap race)

2023 Daytona 500 logo (Provided by NASCAR)

 

Featured Image: 20: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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