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Daytona 500 Race Preview

Written By Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina

After three months of anticipation, the NASCAR season is finally back! Two weeks after the pre-season exhibition race in LA, we will kickstart the season in Florida for one of the biggest events of the year for motorsport fans: The Daytona 500.

Who will rise upon the occasion and secure a win in the biggest stage of them all, in the most watched motorsport event in the United States of America?

Track Preview

Daytona International Speedway is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. Opened in 1959, the race track has been the home to the Daytona 500, the opening race of every season and one of the most famous races in the world of motorsport.

In the prestigious event, they will be racing on the tri-oval layout, going around the 2.5 mile (4.0 kilometre) track for 200 laps. The turns have a staggering banking of 31 degrees, alongside a 18 degree banking in the front straight. 

As the track is classified as a superspeedway, the cars will be equipped with a restrictor plate that restricts airflow into the engine, therefore limiting the top speed a car can reach.

Due to this, there will be bump drafting in this race, where cars will be seen pushing each other in a line to reach greater speeds. However, this may also lead to big crashes, making the race ever more unpredictable.

Current weather forecasts indicate there might be a slight drizzle in Daytona Beach on the entire weekend, which might see the race delayed to Monday if that is the case.

Race Predictions

At the moment, it isn’t clear if Ford, Toyota, or Chevrolet made any significant improvements over their counterparts, and the unpredictability of Daytona makes race predictions even more complicated. But if last year showed us anything, Ford is absolutely dominant around superspeedways.

In the 2023 season, among the four superspeedway races (two in Daytona and two in Talladega), Ford drivers won two of those races: Daytona 400 by Chris Buescher, and Talladega 500 (playoffs) by Ryan Blaney.

You might say it was pure luck, and I would tend to agree. But having four to five Ford cars finish within the top ten for every single of those races is something different, not to mention the stunning performance in Daytona 400 that saw Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, and Aric Almirola dominate one-two-three respectively.

The Fords have a significant chance of winning at the Daytona 500 again, but Chevrolet might be out to spoil their plans.

Chevrolet has sealed the other two superspeedway wins, one being Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the Daytona 500 and the other being Kyle Busch at the Talladega 500 (Regular Season).

They ended their five-year Daytona 500 drought last season, with Stenhouse securing a narrow win in overtime. They will be looking for a repeat, and drivers such as William Byron and Kyle Larson are top contenders for the spot in victory lane. 

The race will commence on February 18th, Sunday, at 14:30 ET (11:30 PT, 20:30 CET).


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