Earlier today Subaru Motorsports USA and Vermont Sportscar unveiled the new VT23r chassis for competition in the American Rally Association.
What Is The New Chassis?
The VT23r is the newest iteration of a Vermont Sportscar built open class rally car. Subaru Motorsports USA and Vermont Sportscar would say farewell to the VA chassis of cars yesterday. Unveiling the new VB chassis today (VT23r). The new chassis sports a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine producing 320hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. The engine also includes the ARA-mandated 33mm restrictor plate and a 22 psi boost limit. The VT23r will sport the iconic Blue and Gold Subaru livery, made iconic by drivers such as Petter Solberg, Richard Burns and Colin McRae.
Both Pastrana and Semenuk would comment on the new VT23r chassis. Pastrana would say “So excited about the 2024 ARA rally championship. The new Subaru platform is amazing and the chance to bagle again with two-time and defending champion Brandon Semenuk is going to be so much fun. When Brandon joined the team, I was the veteran. But the tables have turned and I’m looking forward to learning a lot and hopefully getting back to the top. I’ve only been away from the sport for a year but a lot has changed and I’m ready for the new challenge.”
2023 champion Brandon Semenuk would say “The release of the new car will bring an exciting future along with it. This platform has been completely reengineered and the car looks and feels more dynamic, which will translate to an even better show for the fans! We will also have Travis coming back to the championship next season, which I’m looking forward to. Not only is it more fun having a teammate, but you learn so much more with a two-car team and this will be important for the ongoing development of the platform.”
Subaru Motorsports USA would also confirm the new VT23r will debut at the ARA’s seventh round the Ojibwe Forests Rally later this month. The car will debut with 2022 and 2023 ARA Champion Brandon Semenuk behind the wheel. The Ojibwe Forests Rally takes place on the 25th and 26th of August. You can follow along with what should be another dominant rally by Brandon Semenuk right here on the Pitcrew Online.
Surprise (Sort Of)
Along with announcing the new VT23r chassis, Vermont Sportscar and Subaru Motorsports USA would confirm that 6-time American Rally Champion Travis Pastrana will return to competition in a new VT23r in 2024. Pastrana would take the 2023 season off to focus on other things. This came after Pastrana failed to win a rally during the entire 2022 season. To be fair to Travis he was injured and Ken Block and Brandon Semenuk were blistering quick. Pastrana should be able to give Semenuk the competition he’s been missing this season next season. As Travis Pastrana is the only driver to beat 10-time champion David Higgins for a championship.
Sunday saw JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win the 65th Daytona 500 in a double overtime finish beating Team Penske’s Joey Logano to the caution flag as the field wrecked behind them. It was the longest Daytona 500 being 212 laps (530 miles) compared with 2020’s 209 lap race. The two Kyle’s of Busch and Larson missed out again while Travis Pastrana came home 11th in his first Daytona 500.
Rest of race recap
After starting 31st with 20 laps to go after receiving a penalty for speeding exiting pit road, Stenhouse Jr. methodically worked his way back through the field to take the lead away from Kyle Busch during the first of two overtimes.
In the final overtime, he held off Kyle Larson and inched in front of Joey Logano on the white flag lap at the time of caution as nearly the entire field wrecked behind them after Almirola turned Pastrana down into the pack.
Two minutes later, NASCAR declared Ricky Stenhouse Jr., of Olive Branch, Mississippi, the winner of the 65th running of the Daytona 500; his 12th attempt at winning the Great American Race.
It ends a 199-winless streak and earned the Mississippi native his third career win, all coming at restrictor plate tracks, including the 2017 summer Daytona race. This was Stenhouse’s first season back with his old crew chief Mike Kelly, who he won the 2011 and 2012 Xfinity Championships together with.
Stenhouse Jr. said: “everything played out perfectly for us at the end of that. It’s the Daytona 500. It’s a long race. You’re going to have good parts and bad parts, but we just kept pushing through.”
For most of the race the pack was tightly strung together two-wide 15-plus rows deep. While any aggressive maneuvers and sudden movements often came close to causing the big one, there was perpetual energy changes in the two lanes leading to 52 lead changes in the race shared amongst 21 drivers. Prior to overtime, there was only four cautions for cause.
Joey Logano had been upfront throughout the race including leading the pack for most of the final 18 laps of stage two. Logano retook the lead with 13 laps to go before losing it to AJ Allmendinger two laps later.
Logano circled around the top five for all of overtime including in the first before the big one happened when William Byron and Austin Dillon spun back into the pack in turn three after Byron had sent Dillon into a spin.
In the final overtime finish Logano was ahead of Stenhouse Jr. when the field began wrecking behind them but by the time the caution was thrown five seconds later, Stenhouse Jr. had surged back ahead.
Logano, speaking about his decisions afterwards said: “Second is the worst, man. You’re so close. Leading the white flag lap there, I was up front. Kyle gave me a good push. I knew if I went to the bottom my car didn’t handle good enough. I already got pushed off the bottom once and I thought, if I go down there, I’m probably going to get wrecked, and I don’t know if I can get down there in time to throw the block [on Stenhouse] and so I didn’t want to wreck my car either.”
Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch had taken over the lead with teammate Austin Dillon in tandem inside of three laps to go, slingshotting around the Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford’s of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher.
The RCR camp offered Stenhouse an olive branch on the restart when a drop to the bottom lane from the top by Busch to allow Dillon in to push saw Logano’s and Stenhouse Jr.’s outside led lane out-drag them down the backstretch. Busch would be collected in the final wreck sending him tumbling down the finishing order to 19th.
Busch had a stereotypically rowdy race. In his 18th attempt to win the Daytona 500, he had to start in the rear due to going to a backup car after Thursday night’s duel crash but worked his way up to the top-10 after the first green flag pit stops. Busch was caught speeding on pit road on lap 107 and served his drive through penalty under green, consequently being caught by the pack laps later.
After being the lucky dog on lap 132, putting himself back on the lead lap, Busch worked his way up to inside the top five with 15 laps to go, only to wreck out of the Daytona 500 again when Kyle Busch spun off of Bubba Wallace’s nose in the final wreck.
‘@KyleBusch led lap 200, the advertised race length.
Kyle Larson led the opening lap of the race, pipping polesitter Alex Bowman to the line. Larson, while staying in contention, would only be at the front again in the second overtime, lining up alongside Stenhouse Jr. for the restart. Larson would finish 18th after being taken out in the final crash.
The first stint of the race was smooth sailing apart from a spinning Riley Herbst in the infield grass on lap 38, but the race stayed caution free. After the first green flag pit stops were complete on lap 45, the four Toyota’s found themselves in the top-five in 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace leading with teammate Tyler Reddick followed by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell. Wallace had to come to pit road from the lead after a light bump from Truex Jr. sent him into the wall and would go down a lap.
With six to go in stage one it was a JGR one-two-three in Martin Truex Jr, Hamlin and Ty Gibbs but were sitting ducks to the RFK and Stewart-Haas Racing Ford’s of Brad Keselowski, Ryan Preece, Chris Buescher and Kevin Harvick. The blue ovals pounced on the final lap with Keselowski winning the stage.
Keselowski also led much of the halfway part of the race. At lap 100 Erik Jones, in his striking Guns N’ Roses sponsored No. 43, was up to fifth, and Jimmie Johnson, the two-time Daytona 500 winner who finished eighth in stage one, was up to sixth.
Lap 118 saw the first major incident of the race when Harvick gently pushed outside leader Reddick into a spin down into Blaney and Truex Jr. before careering into the turn four wall causing the field to check up behind. Blaney would whack the outside wall also but would continue after repairs while Jones would spin into Chase Elliott taking both, along with Reddick, out of the race. Wallace ironically would get the free pass following his teammate’s crash.
A six-lap shootout to end stage two saw Ross Chastain drag-race Alex Bowman to the green chequered flag to take the stage win.
Wallace would lead the start of the final stage after staying out under yellow. Wallace had no top-end pace on the restart and quickly fell back through the pack as Aric Almirola took over the lead.
A seven-car crash came just after the final scheduled green flag pit stop’s with 19 laps to go when part of the mid-field stacked up behind Keselowski leading to 14th place running Preece, the fifth car in line, spinning out from Michael McDowell’s rear contact, taking out himself and SHR teammate Chase Briscoe from the race.
Harrison Burton and Logano briefly led at the front before Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger took over the lead from Logano while Burton squeezed Busch into the frontstretch wall. The RFK Ford’s of Keselowski and Buescher took back the lead with 10 to go before an eight-car breakaway developed inside of five to go, with Busch and Dillon tucked in behind the RFK Ford’s.
A spinning Daniel Suarez coming off turn four into the infield grass helped lead to the double-overtime finish that saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win his first Cup race since 2017 and Chevrolet win their first Daytona 500 since RCR’s win with Austin Dillon in 2018.
The mayhem at the end and good incident avoidance led Rick Ware Racing’s Riley Herbst to come home in 10th in his first Daytona 500 start, despite being a part of the first overtime crash, and X-Games gold medallist Travis Pastrana finish 11th in his first Daytona 500. Jimmie Johnson was forced to retire from the race after being caught up the first overtime pile-up and would finish 31st.
This Sunday sees the NASCAR Cup Series travel to Fontana, California for the second race of the season, the Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway starting 3:30pm ET.
Featured Image: 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)
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.
Starting lineup/paint schemes
Starting lineup summary
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Starting lineup summary
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
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)
Bowman was the last car to go out in single- car qualifying’s final round and had to beat Hendrick Motorsport teammate Kyle Larson’s lap speed of 181.057mph. Both Bowman and Larson make up the front row for the Great American Race for two years in a row except it was Larson on pole for last year’s race.
Bowman, who announced a contract extension earlier in the day that sees him through to 2026 with Hendrick said: “This Ally 48 Camaro is obviously really fast. I don’t really have a lot to do with qualifying here, so just fortunate to qualify some really fast race cars.”
Hendrick drivers have won eight of the last nine Daytona 500 poles, and Chevrolet drivers have won the last 11.
It was a Hendrick one-two-three at the end of qualifying with William Byron coming in third with a lap speed of 180.727mph. Unlike his teammates, his starting position for the Daytona 500 will be decided in the duel races as only the front row is locked in for the Daytona 500 ahead of the duels.
It was all Ford’s from fourth to ninth in Almirola, Logano, Briscoe, Blaney, Cindric and Burton. Kyle Busch had his initial top-five time disallowed for dipping his Richard Childress Chevrolet below the double yellow lines on the frontstretch, having to settle for 10th out of the 10 cars in the final round.
Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana were the top two non-chartered cars, qualifying 23rd and 25th with near equal lap speeds; 179.276mph and 179.254mph respectively. There’d been no practice prior to qualifying so it was all the more impressive to see Johnson, the seven-time Cup champions’ first qualifying session with the New Gen Car and Pastrana, making his first Daytona 500 run, lay down competitive lap speeds.
Pastrana said: I just can’t say enough about this 23XI team. And this TRD motor and being able to get on the [simulator], that was everything. Can’t give them enough credit for this opportunity.”
It means that Conor Daly, Chandler Smith, Zane Smith and Austin Hill will have to race their way into the Daytona 500. Daly, who led laps in last year’s Indy 500, was unable to go out to qualify due to a broken oil line. The Money Team Racing car was completely disassembled during qualifying while they awaited the arrival of a replacement oil heater. He consequently qualified 42nd.
An oil line broke on the No. 50 car. Conor Daly told me he isn't sure if the team will be able to fix it in time to post a qualifying lap tonight. #NASCARpic.twitter.com/OMRBa6mXV9
Front Row Motorsport’s Zane Smith was the best of the rest of the non-chartered cars qualifying 29th with a lap speed of 178.862mph. Austin Hill and Chandler Smith qualified 32nd and 41st.
The single-car qualifying results decide where each driver will start in the Blue Vacations Duel 60-lap qualifying races to determine the starting positions for the Great American Race. The qualifying field will be split into two duels, with the odd numbered qualified cars racing in duel one and even numbered qualified cars in duel two.
The highest finishing non-chartered car from each duel that isn’t locked in from single-car qualifying will lock themselves into Sunday’s race.
The Blue Vacation Duels begin 7pm ET time Thursday night.
Full qualifying results
(48) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 181.686 mph.
(5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 181.057 mph.
(24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 180.727 mph.
(10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 180.723 mph.
(22) Joey Logano, Ford, 180.712 mph.
(14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 180.661 mph.
(12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 180.054 mph.
(2) Austin Cindric, Ford, 180.014 mph.
(21) Harrison Burton, Ford, 179.748 mph.
(8) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
(23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 180.011 mph.
(99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 179.921 mph.
(17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 179.888 mph.
(9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 179.881 mph.
(1) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 179.863 mph.
(41) Ryan Preece, Ford, 179.849 mph.
(4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 179.684 mph.
(6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 179.673 mph.
(54) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 179.616 mph.
(45) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 179.612 mph.
(20) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 179.497 mph.
(19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 179.347 mph.
(84) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 179.276 mph.
(34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 179.265 mph.
(67) Travis Pastrana, Toyota, 179.254 mph.
(11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 179.154 mph.
(43) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 178.998 mph.
(42) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 178.941 mph.
(36) Zane Smith(i), Ford, 178.862 mph.
(16) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 178.813 mph.
(31) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 178.763 mph.
(62) Austin Hill(i), Chevrolet, 178.660 mph.
(3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 178.525 mph.
(38) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 178.204 mph.
(47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 177.925 mph.
(78) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 177.834 mph.
(51) Cody Ware, Ford, 177.169 mph.
(15) Riley Herbst(i), Ford, 176.849 mph.
(77) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 176.315 mph.
(7) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 176.287 mph.
(13) Chandler Smith(i), Chevrolet, 175.022 mph.
(50) Conor Daly(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
Featured Image: 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)
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.
Drivers to watch
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drivers to watch
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, 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, 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.
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.
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 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.
In case you missed the unveil, here is the scheme I'll be running at @DAYTONA. Anytime you have a 50th birthday, it's a cause for celebration and definitely deserves a special paint scheme. Excited to hit the track! pic.twitter.com/O4X9wcDp3g
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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)
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)