It’s Daytona Day!

It’s Daytona Day!

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.

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.

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!”

Former football player LaDainian Tomlinson will wave the first green flag. 

The San Diego Chargers-great will drop the race’s first green flag.

Jordan Sparks will provide pre-race vocals. 

Sparks, a former winner of American Idol, is set to sing the National Anthem.

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!

My Picks! 

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:

  1. Chase Elliott
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. 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. 

7 reasons to watch the Daytona 500

7 reasons to watch the Daytona 500

By: Ashley Conley

The Super Bowl of NASCAR is only 10 days away! Here are seven reasons why you should tune in or head to the track for some high-speed action:

1.¬†There’s a new sponsor and logo¬†– In December, NASCAR announced a new primary sponsor for its premier series. What was previously known as¬†the Winston Cup Series, then the Sprint Cup Series, will now be the Monster Energy Cup Series. In addition, NASCAR’s signature multicolored logo has been upgraded to a more simplistic yellow, red and blue scheme.


2. There’s a new format¬†– This year’s Daytona 500 will be the first race to run under a newly implemented format¬†in place for the entirety of the¬†2017 schedule.

The Great American Race will feature three stages Рtwo of 60 laps and one of 80 laps Рtotaling the usual 200 laps and 500 miles. A new points format will also be put into effect. You can check out the details here.


3.¬†Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is back¬†– The man who’s claimed the Most Popular Driver Award a whopping 14 years in-a-row is back to full health after missing most of the last season with major concussion symptoms.

Since the tragic death of his father, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., during the 2001 Daytona 500, this race has been especially significant for Dale Jr. and his fans. The 18-year veteran has two Daytona 500 championships under his belt and is a favorite to win another.


4.¬†Jimmie Johnson is racing for a record-breaking eighth championship¬†– After winning the 2016 title, Jimmie Johnson tied Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and “The King” Richard Petty¬†for the most titles in NASCAR history with seven. This year, he’s racing to break that record. Winning a third-career Daytona 500 could¬†be the perfect start to accomplishing that goal.


5.¬†The Young Guns – Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez; the list goes on and on. NASCAR isn’t just an old fashioned sport full of older men nowadays. The younger talents bring a whole different element of excitement and although some of them are only in their early twenties, they know how to give the veterans a run for their money.


6.¬†A female will compete for the sixth-straight season¬†– Danica Patrick will pilot the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for this year’s Daytona 500. The Illinois native has 154 career NASCAR starts, the most of any female driver in the sport’s history (you go, girl!). Statistically, Daytona has been one of her best tracks with two top-ten finishes and one Pole (2013).

Will this be the year she gets her first win?


7.¬†The Big One¬†– Although it’s never pleasant¬†to see anyone wreck while traveling 200 mph, The Big One is almost always inevitable at a track like Daytona. The exciting part about The Big One is that it can single-handily determine who’s still in it to win it¬†on the very last lap when the checkered flag waves. The ultimate crash can knock out 10, 12 or even more cars in a matter of seconds. Luck has to be on your side to win the Daytona 500!

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The 59th running of the Daytona 500 is slated for Sunday, February 26 at 2 p.m. and will air on FOX (television) and the MRN (radio). Tickets can still be purchased online.

Cover Image: nascar.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.