NASCAR Cup Series Gets Season Fired-Up With Daytona 500

Denny Hamlin Hoping For Back-to-Back Wins

Scott Stiller
February 15, 2020 - 11:03 pm
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 MoneyLion Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 09, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

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The green flag drops on the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday with the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is the defending race winner.  Hamlin is looking for his third 500-victory in five years.  Hamlin also won the race in 2016 and has 8 top five’s and nine top 10s at the 2.5-miles superspeedway.

Hamlin and seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson are the only active drivers to have won two Daytona 500 races.  Three drivers in series history have won back-to-back Daytona 500 events (Sterling Marlin – 1994, 1995; Cale Yarborough – 1983-1984; Richard Petty – 1973, 1974). 

There are only seven active Daytona 500 winners set to hit the track for Sunday’s 62nd running of the historic race.  In addition to Hamlin and Johnson, the other past winners include Austin Dillon (one win), Joey Logano (one win), Kevin Harvick (one win), Kurt Busch (one win) and Ryan Newman (one win).

Busch is one of three of Chip Ganassi’s drivers that are in Sunday’s field.  Busch will start 18th in the No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro.  Busch, who won the Series Championship in 2004, says anytime you can win a marquee event it's special.

"When you win the most iconic race in your series, for us in NASCAR it's the Daytona 500, it's a Championship all on its own," said Busch.  "It's so powerful because of the prestige, the history and the value of what the race means."  

Ganassi’s Kyle Larson will start 8th in the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet Camaro and would love nothing more than to grab a victory and get their season-long championship fight off to a good start.

"You want to get your season off on the right foot," said Larson.  "To top it off to win the biggest NASCAR race on the schedule is also great.  It would be cool to win it for Chip, Credit One Bank, and to add my name to the list of greats who have won this race." 

Ross Chastain, a Ganassi development driver, will start 20th in the No. 77 Advent Health Camaro in partnership with Spire Motorsports.

JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will lead the field to the green flag.  Stenhouse won the pole position with a fast lap of 46.263-seconds (194.582 mph) in a Chevrolet.  

"I think I've noticed over the years of speedway racing that when you have a fast car, obviously you get -- sometimes you get more people to work with you, sometimes you don't," said Stenhouse.

Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman will start on the outside of the front row after a fast lap of 46.305-seconds (194.363 mph).

Team Penske's Joey Logano was the fastest in final practice with a fast lap of 44.884-seconds (200.517 mph).  Stewart Haas Racing's Clint Bowyer had the fastest 10-lap average at 199.332 mph.

The race is scheduled to start at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET.

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