2024 Daytona 500: Lineup, new start time, race preview, predictions, how to watch NASCAR opening race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — There are a few select places in the entire world that are unmistakably associated with pushing the capabilities of the automobile to their absolute maximum. Say the word Daytona, and the sights and sounds that come to mind are etched into the American canon. More than a century’s worth of racing started on the beach and later turned into one of the most famous racetracks in the world, and its greatest race of all.

This Monday marks the 66th annual running of the Daytona 500, the biggest race in all of NASCAR and the season-opener for the 2024 Cup Series season. More than any other event in all of stock car racing, this single race is capable of forever establishing and altering legacies. Some NASCAR champions have tried for many years to win this race, while others have been transformed into champions simply by crossing the finish line first at the end of 200 laps and 500 miles.

This year’s Daytona 500 was rescheduled from Sunday to late Monday afternoon due to rain, marking the third time in the race’s history it has been postponed due to inclement weather. After not being rained out a single time from the inaugural race in 1959 to 2011, all three Daytona 500 postponements have taken place since 2012. In addition to postponements in 2012, 2020 and now 2024, rain also led to the race being delayed until late Sunday night in 2014 and 2021.

Joey Logano sits in pole position this year after coming up just short in 2023 to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He previously won the race back in 2015 and hopes to kick off this season with a bang. Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin, who is a three-time winner of this competition, starts eighth. Plus, Jimmie Johnson, who won in 2006 and 2013, returns and starts 23rd

Let’s take a closer look at what fans can expect once the green flag waves Monday before getting to a prediction and expert pick on who enters the winner’s circle.

How to watch the Daytona 500

Date: Monday, Feb. 19
Location: Daytona International Speedway — Daytona Beach, Florida
Start time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: Fox
Live stream: fubo (try for free)

What to watch

  • The foundation of the prestige of the Daytona 500 is the names of auto racing greats who have been skilled and fortunate enough to take the checkered flag through the years: Lee Petty, Junior Johnson and Fireball Roberts in the early days, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and David Pearson later on, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. more recently — and many, many more.

    But just as it has been hoisted by legends of stock car racing — as well as international racing icons like Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt — the Harley J. Earl Trophy has also been held aloft by humble and unlikely heroes. Historically, that meant the occasional upset win by drivers like Pete Hamilton, Derrike Cope, Michael Waltrip and Trevor Bayne. But that subset of Daytona 500 winners that only saw a new addition every so often has quickly proliferated over the past three years.

    Each of the last three Daytona 500 champions have come from out of the pack, with longtime journeyman Michael McDowell and rookie Austin Cindric taking their first career NASCAR Cup Series wins in this race in 2021 and 2022 respectively before Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took the checkered flag last year to earn only his third Cup Series win and his first in six years. One of the consequences of that has been that it has several of NASCAR’s biggest stars and former champions from adding Daytona 500 crowns to their resumes: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson are all winless in this race, with Busch and Truex on the cusp of nearly 20 years of trying to win and never succeeding.

    Likewise, defending Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney is also seeking his first Daytona 500 win after several close calls before. Blaney has finished second in this race twice — including by inches in 2020 — and has come off Turn 4 with a shot to win three times since 2017. Blaney is among the favorites again this year, and he is looking to become the first driver to win the Daytona 500 the year after winning the Cup championship since Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett did so in 2000. But he and several other contenders will have to come from the back after a massive accident in Thursday night’s Duel qualifying races destroyed Blaney’s primary car and forced him and others like Busch and William Byron to backup cars.

  • The early results of Speedweeks in Daytona have offered a considerable glimpse into the performance of two new body types in the Cup Series this season, the Ford Mustang Dark Horse and the Toyota Camry XSE. The new version of the Mustang got everyone’s attention in time trial qualifying on Wednesday, with Joey Logano and Michael McDowell taking the front row starting spots and ending a streak of more than 10 years of Daytona 500 poles for Chevrolet.

    The single-car speed of the Camry XSE seemed much more suspect, as not a single Toyota managed to qualify inside the top 20. However, the performance of Toyota in racing conditions suggested that concerns following qualifying were overblown: Toyota swept the Duel qualifying races on Thursday night, with Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell winning their respective races with last-lap passes.

    Those developments have somewhat overshadowed the performance of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the lone returning body style from the 2023 season. However, the bowtie brigade boasts the defending Daytona 500 champion, as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. looks to become the second driver to win back-to-back 500s in the past five years.

  • Some of the other storylines in the field center around NASCAR’s biggest stars and all-time great drivers who have a stake in both the Daytona 500 and NASCAR history at hand. Denny Hamlin is looking to become only the third driver in history to win this race more than three times, and a fourth victory would tie him for second all-time with Cale Yarborough.

    Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who is becoming the first driver to ever make a Cup start after being named to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, can also move out of a tiebreaker with Yarborough for sixth on NASCAR’s all-time wins list should he earn his third Daytona 500 win and the 84th of his Cup career overall. Either accomplishment for Hamlin and Johnson would be a fitting tribute to Yarborough, one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers ever, who passed away during the offseason at the age of 84.

    Another driver with something at stake is Joey Logano, the 2015 Daytona 500 champion and this year’s polesitter. Should Logano earn his second Daytona 500 win, he would become the first driver to win the 500 from the pole since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

Daytona 500 starting lineup

  1. #22 – Joey Logano
  2. #34 – Michael McDowell 
  3. #45 – Tyler Reddick
  4. #20 – Christopher Bell
  5. #9 – Chase Elliott
  6. #2 – Austin Cindric
  7. #48 – Alex Bowman
  8. #11 – Denny Hamlin
  9. #77 – Carson Hocevar (R)
  10. #42 – John Hunter Nemechek
  11. #43 – Erik Jones
  12. #21 – Harrison Burton
  13. #99 – Daniel Suarez
  14. #71 – Zane Smith (R)
  15. #54 – Ty Gibbs
  16. #6 – Brad Keselowski
  17. #5 – Kyle Larson
  18. #24 – William Byron
  19. #17 – Chris Buescher
  20. #14 – Chase Briscoe
  21. #1 – Ross Chastain
  22. #51 – Justin Haley
  23. #84 – Jimmie Johnson
  24. #23 – Bubba Wallace
  25. #41 – Ryan Preece
  26. #36 – Kaz Grala
  27. #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
  28. #16 – A.J. Allmendinger
  29. #7 – Corey LaJoie
  30. #4 – Josh Berry (R)
  31. #38 – Todd Gilliland
  32. #12 – Ryan Blaney +
  33. #3 – Austin Dillon
  34. #8 – Kyle Busch
  35. #47 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  36. #15 – RIley Herbst
  37. #31 – Daniel Hemric
  38. #10 – Noah Gragson
  39. #62 – Anthony Alfredo
  40. #60 – David Ragan

Failed to qualify: B.J. McLeod, J.J. Yeley

Pick to win

Brad Keselowski (+1200) — The last five Daytona 500s have all seen Keselowski be a factor late in the race, and in each of the past three in particular he has been at the front with a chance to win in the final laps. He has also led the most laps in this race two years in a row, and his RFK Racing team has only gotten better since last year’s 500 – As evidenced by last August’s race at Daytona when Keselowski pushed teammate Chris Buescher to the win.

There is always a focus on which veteran drivers are still looking for their first Daytona 500 win, but compared to Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., I think Keselowski is best positioned to finally win “The Great American Race” and end his winless streak dating back to Talladega in 2021.

So who wins the 2024 Daytona 500? And which longshot has the potential to stun NASCAR? Visit SportsLine now to see the 2024 NASCAR at Daytona picks and best bets from a NASCAR insider who called Chastain and Suarez’s breakthrough wins in 2022, and find out.

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