By: Ashley Conley
NASCAR fans have been waiting months for this day – Daytona Day – for the 59th running of The Great American Race, the Daytona 500.
— RCR (@RCRracing) February 26, 2017
Here’s everything you need to know before the green flag drops:
Chase Elliott will start from the pole for the second year in-a-row.
This is only Elliott’s second Daytona 500, and he’s earned the pole position both times. His teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will start from second.
Elliott piloted his NAPA Racing Chevy to victory lane in last week’s CanAm Duel number 1. Can he complete the trifecta today? The No. 24 Hendrick team finished 37th after an early crash in last year’s 500, but Elliott says he’s more mentally prepared to compete for a win this time around.
40 cars are in it to win it.
36 charter teams (a.k.a. the regulars) and four “open” teams (ones that had to qualify or race their way in during the CanAm Duels) are in the starting lineup. You can see the full grid here.
This will be the first NASCAR race to run under a new three-segment format.
Today’s Daytona 500 will consist of three segments; the first two will be 60 laps each followed by an 80-lap sprint to the finish. 200 laps = 500 miles.
Tweet I’m hoping to see after #Daytona500. “Was skeptical of new NASCAR format after reading about it but that race was really cool!”
— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) February 8, 2017
You can learn more about the format changes for this race here.
Actor Owen Wilson is the Grand Marshall.
Owen Wilson, star of Wedding Crashers, Marley & Me and a plethora of other movies including the upcoming Cars sequel, will kick off the race with the traditional “Drivers, start your engines!”
— Daytona IntlSpeedway (@DISupdates) February 26, 2017
Former football player LaDainian Tomlinson will wave the first green flag.
The San Diego Chargers-great will drop the race’s first green flag.
— LaDainian Tomlinson (@LT_21) February 26, 2017
Jordan Sparks will provide pre-race vocals.
Sparks, a former winner of American Idol, is set to sing the National Anthem.
So nice to see the genuine excitement of NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson and singer Jordan Sparks for their roles in today’s #Daytona500
— Holly Cain (@_HollyCain) February 26, 2017
TV and Radio
Television coverage for the Daytona 500 will begin at 2 p.m. on FOX. Radio coverage will begin at the same time on the MRN (Motor Racing Network).
According to NASCAR, stadium tickets for the Daytona 500 officially sold out yesterday!
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 26, 2017
I became a Chase Elliott fan last year before he ran his first NASCAR Monster Energy race during his rookie season, therefore, I have to go with Team 24! Here’s my projected Top 5:
- Chase Elliott
- Kevin Harvick
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch
- Kyle Larson
Remember to follow along on social media with the hashtag #Daytona500. Enjoy the race!
Cover Image: beyondtheflag.com
Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy.