60 to watch for 60th Daytona 500
Starting with the drivers leading the pack, Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin, here's Sunday's Daytona 500 starting lineup of 40 drivers, plus 20 people who will get plenty of face time at the track.
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Dale Jr.'s gone but not forgotten
"It may be a little bit harder with Dale not being around, but this sport will still go on and be OK" is one thought around the NASCAR garage these days. It's especially true considering that Dale Jr. will remain tied to the sport in many ways.
NASCAR's next gen with famous last names
With family pedigrees already established in the sport, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott are soaking up the spotlight as NASCAR promotes its young stars in the wake of so many popular veterans retiring.
Austin Dillon wins the Daytona 500 as leader Aric Almirola is sent for a spin on the final lap. Darrell Wallace Jr. was second.
On the 17th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt's death, Austin Dillon wins the Daytona 500 in the number three car.
The running order as the Daytona 500 heads into its first overtime, which is a two-lap dash to the finish: Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, Darrell Wallace Jr., Joey Logano, AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman and Michael McDowell. Those are the only cars on the lead lap.
Battling Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney for the lead, Kurt Busch got turned with less than two laps remaining in the Daytona 500. Busch, Alex Bowman, Matt DiBenedetto had run in the top-10 for much of the second half of the race and ended up with crashed cars. Blaney suffered some frontend damage. The race will go to overtime.
There are 15 laps left in the Daytona 500, and Ryan Blaney remains the leader. His ability to block and prevent others from getting runs could be key for him to win the race. Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin are in the top-5.
Ryan Blaney leads with 35 laps left in the Daytona 500. He has Penske teammate Joey Logano behind him in second. Denny Hamlin, Alex Bowman, Matt DiBenedetto and Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch and Chris Buescher are in the top-10. There are just 17 cars left on the lead lap in a race that has featured two multi-car accidents.
The car of Chase Elliott sits in the garage after his crash in the Daytona 500.
Danica Patrick's car is towed in the Daytona International Speedway garage as a crash ended her day on Lap 102 of the Daytona 500. She likely will finish 35th in her final NASCAR race.
Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick were among those involved in a crash with 98 laps left in the Daytona 500.
The wrecked car of Jimmie Johnson sits in the garage as his Daytona 500 ended on Lap 60 as he got caught up in a crash. Also knocked out of the race were Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Ty Dillon.
Jimmie Johnson, Daniel Suarez, William Byron and Erik Jones are involved in a wreck on the final lap of the opening stage of the Daytona 500. Kurt Busch captured the opening stage.
Kyle Busch has had two left rear flat tires, including one that caused him to crash on Lap 51. The team is trying to repair the rear bumper so he can continue in the Daytona 500. Also suffering damage were Jamie McMurray and DJ Kennington.
Denny Hamlin suffered an early 1-lap penalty for having his car serviced when he was outside the box. He overshot his pit, and the fueler engaged the fuel can before he had fully backed into his stall. He has plenty of time to get the lap back as the penalty comes on Lap 11 of the 200-lap event.
For the second year, NASCAR will divide races into stages and award regular-season points to the top-10 drivers and one playoff point -- a point that is carried through the third round of the playoffs -- to the winners of each of the first two stages. All drivers earn regular-season points at the end of the race, and the winner earns five playoff points. The first stage for the Daytona 500 ends at Lap 60, the second stage ends at Lap 120, and the race is scheduled to end on Lap 200.
Just prior to the Daytona 500, which will be her final NASCAR race, Danica Patrick, left, takes a photo with a fan who is dressed just like her.
The USAF Thunderbirds fly over Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 500 is about to begin.
Can a rookie win the Daytona 500? It's happened once (Trevor Bayne, 2011). Making his first official start for Hendrick Motorsports, highly touted William Byron hopes to become the second, but he'll have to do it in a backup No. 24 car after crashing in Thursday's duel.
Alex Bowman is on the pole for the Daytona 500 today, the second time in his NASCAR Cup career he is on the pole. The replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr. has 81 career Cup starts, but he competed in only three races – two in Xfinity (winning one) and one in trucks – while working as a Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet test and simulation driver.
At the Daytona 500 prerace drivers meeting, there were no questions about the yellow-line rule, which has forced NASCAR to make some controversial calls in the last week at Daytona. The only mention was in the driver instruction video, which is normal. Here is the rule as played in the video:
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