Everything you need to know about Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, in three minutes:
Three things to watch
1. Hendrick Motorsports teams own the top three starting positions, including Jeff Gordon starting from the pole, and the organization has had fast cars since Speedweeks began.
2. NASCAR’s new electronic pit road monitoring system has already changed the dynamic in races. How much will it affect the season’s most prestigious race?
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3. Matt Kenseth, who won last Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited, has won a pair of Daytona 500s and seems in good position this season to pick up a third.
▪ NASCAR likely would have preferred to wait for the Delaware Attorney General’s office to make a determination whether Kurt Busch will be criminally charged. But the court of the public could not wait. With a ruling from a judge that an act of domestic violence had occurred, there was little NASCAR could do other than suspend Busch.
▪ Weather conditions for Sunday’s 500 look to be far different than the rest of Speedweeks with temperatures in the mid-70s. The track will be slick and a car’s handling will play a much bigger role, which may shake up the list of contenders.
▪ Much money and time has been poured into the “Daytona Rising” project, the remake of Daytona International Speedway. The results will finally be tested one year from now when the public sees a finished product.
Smith ready to serve as fill-in: Regan Smith is accustomed to the role of pinch-hitter and believes he has just as much a shot to win Sunday’s Daytona 500 as anyone else.
Smith will substitute for driver Kurt Busch in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet after Busch was indefinitely suspended Friday by NASCAR. Last season, Smith substituted for Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen, N.Y., when Stewart elected to sit out that race after his involvement in a dirt track racing accident the night before.
“There are a lot of people that have had their hands on that race car and have worked hard on that race car and they deserve to still have the opportunity to go out there and win that race, and that’s what we’re going to try to do for them,” Smith said.
SHR officials have not made a decision on a driver for the No. 41 beyond this weekend.
Patrick to work TV booth: Cup driver Danica Patrick is scheduled to serve as a race analyst during Fox Sports 1’s coverage of the Xfinity Series from Michigan on June 13. She will offer analysis alongside play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander and analyst Michael Waltrip.
Final practice wrapup: Denny Hamlin was fastest in Saturday’s final pre-Daytona 500 practice session, in which only 35 of the 43 scheduled starters ran laps. His best average lap speed was 202.106 mph. Kasey Kahne was second fastest and Greg Biffle third.
Three picks for your fantasy team:
Jeff Gordon: Gordon’s final fulltime ride in NASCAR begins from the pole. The last time he started first in the 500 in 1999, he won the race.
Kyle Busch: The only team which looks like it could go toe-to-toe with Hendrick is Joe Gibbs Racing, and Busch looks like the best of the bunch.
Regan Smith: Why not? He’s won at Daytona in the Xfinity Series and would there be a more appropriate end to Speedweeks then to see Busch’s replacement win the race?
He said it
“The 500 I think will be much more difficult to control. When you have all the good cars there pushing and pulling, creating those runs, it will be a little more difficult.” – Jimmie Johnson, who starts second.