Daytona 500 - All You Need to Know

The Great American Race. The Super Bowl of NASCAR.

Call it whatever you want – the Daytona 500 is, without question, the biggest moment of the NASCAR season.

In just over one month, the Cup Series car will take it to the high banked corners at Daytona Beach.

And after 200 laps and 500 miles of racing around the 2.5-mile oval, one driver will be presented with the prestigious Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy.

Here is everything you need to know for the 2020 edition of the Daytona 500 NASCAR race.

When is the 2020 Daytona 500?

The 2020 Daytona 500 is going to happen on February 16, 2020.

The green flag is set to drop at 2:30 PM ET, marking the start of the 62nd edition of the Great American Race.

Race fans will have the opportunity to enjoy plenty of action over the course of the weekend as well.

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How Does the Daytona 500 Qualifying Work?

While the Daytona 500 is the main attraction, the famous Daytona Speedweeks will have plenty of on-track action.

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 follows a different procedure compared to the other NASCAR races.

It all starts with the classic qualifying session, with all drivers setting their fastest lap time.

However, only the front row is actually set by the timed qualifying session.

The remaining spots from 3rd to 40th are then set in two separate races, the Bluegreen Vacation Duels at Daytona.

The drivers are split into two groups according to their lap times.

Odd places take part in duel 1, while the even places take part in duel 2.

The winner of duel 1 starts on the inside of row 2, while the runner-up starts on the inside of row 3 and so on.

The winner of the duel 2, meanwhile, starts on the outside of row 2, while the runner-up starts on the outside of row 3 and so on until row 15.

These results will set the starting order from 3rd to 30th.

Four of the remaining ten spots go to the fastest cars from the qualifying session that did not secure a spot among the top 30.

Six spots go to the best placed cars from the previous year’s owner standings.

The final spot is reserved for any past winner of the Daytona 500 NASCAR race that did not meet the qualifying criteria.

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 will take place on February 9, while the grid-setting Blue Green Vacation Duels at Daytona are scheduled for February 13.

How Long Does the Daytona 500 Last?

The Daytona 500 is, unsurprisingly, one of the longest races in the Cup Series schedule.

Yellow flags play a big role in setting the race pace.

NASCAR fans know very well that Daytona 500 crashes are a common occurrence.

As a result, the race usually lasts from three to three and a half hours.

The slowest Daytona 500, in 1960, went on for 4 hours.

More recently, the 2011 Daytona 500 came close to matching this record, as it went on for 3 hours and 59 minutes.

So, if you plan on watching the Daytona 500, you better get ready to enjoy more than three hours of on-track action.

There is also the possibility to watch it from the stands as well, or from the track infield.

If that’s your pick, then Daytona 500 tickets for 2020 are still up for sale.

How Many Laps Does the Daytona 500 Have?

Since the Daytona Superspeedway is 2.5-mile long, the race length is initially set at 200 laps in order to cover the 500-mile race distance.

This, however, can change over the course of the race.

As mentioned earlier, Daytona 500 crashes are relatively common.

If a yellow flag comes out towards the end of the race, it can go into overtime according to NASCAR’s regulation.

The sport’s rules dictate that a race cannot finish under caution unless an attempt is made to finish under the green flag.

NASCAR overtime, or green-white-checkered, is a three-lap shootout.

If a yellow flag comes out on the first lap after the restart, the race goes into overtime again.

The regulations do not set a limit for green-white-checkered attempts.

The race won’t be restarted following a caution on the final lap.

Under these circumstances, the Daytona 500 lap count can go over 200.

Both the 2019 and 2018 editions, for example, went on for 207 laps for a total of 517.5 miles.

The 2011 edition, meanwhile, ran for 208 laps to become the longest ever Daytona 500, with 520 miles.

The race can also end in under 200 laps.

Once the drivers complete 50% plus one lap of the full distance, the race can be called off at any time.

Weather conditions can bring the race to a premature end as a result.

The 2009 race was called off at 152 laps due to constant rain showers.

What Are the Stages of the Daytona 500?

Since 2017, NASCAR’s races have been split into three different segments called stages.

The first stage corresponds to 25% of the race distance, as does the second stage.

A race stage comes to an end at the green and white checkered flag, with a caution period following.

The third and final stage runs from the halfway mark all the way to the classic checkered flag.

Winning the third stage naturally means winning the race itself.

Each stage pays 10 points to the winner, while also adding five extra points in the playoffs.

The third stage pays the full 46 points for the winner.

Drivers can employ different strategies, either going for stage wins or sacrificing stage points thinking of the big picture.

Of course, a dominant car is perfectly capable of sweeping all three race stages.

The 2017 edition of the Daytona 500 was the first-ever Cup Series race under the three stages format.

Stages 1 and 2 have 50 laps each, while stage 3 has 100 laps.

The drivers with the most stage wins at the Daytona 500 are Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney.

Kyle Busch has two Daytona 500 stage 1 wins, while Blaney has two stage-2 victories.

No driver has managed to win a stage and the race itself.

Kyle Busch came close to achieving this feat in last year’s edition of the Daytona 500.

After winning stage 1 for the second time in three years, Busch crossed the finish line second behind teammate Denny Hamlin.

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Who Will Win the 2020 Daytona 500 Predictions

This year’s entry list features seven Daytona 500 past winners.

Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, and Kevin Harvick are joined by two-time winners Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin is the defending Daytona 500 champion, having made the trip down to victory lane two times in the last four years.

As a result, he should be considered one of the early picks to win this year’s edition of the Great American Race.

We could also have a new winner joining this list.

The Daytona 500 trophy is one of the few things missing from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. CV.

Coming off one of the best seasons in his career, the 2017 champion definitely has the talent and the equipment to finally win at Daytona Beach.

However, Truex will have some question marks surrounding him following the unexpected retirement of championship-winning crew chief Cole Pearn.

Kevin Harvick is likely to be among the favorites as well.

A past Daytona 500 winner, the Stewart-Haas driver had a fantastic second half of the season in 2019.

Harvick could carry the momentum from his strong finish into the first race of the new season.

Reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Busch will once again try to finally win the Daytona 500.

The Harley J. Earl Trophy is one of the few missing from Busch’s silverware collection.

He has come close on multiple occasions but always fell short of actually visiting victory lane.

Given Joe Gibbs Racing’s strong form in 2019, the two-time Cup Series champion could be in the mix for the elusive maiden 500 win.

Brad Keselowski is another driver to keep an eye on.

The 2012 champion has yet to win the Daytona 500 but is well-known as one of the best superspeedway racers in NASCAR.

Keselowski leads all active drivers with six superspeedway wins, one of them at Daytona.

As always, the 2.5-mile track could spring a surprise or two.

Could seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson bounce back from two bad seasons in 2018 and 2019 by winning in his last Daytona 500 start?

The 40-car field will be battling for a generous prize pool.

Since 2016, the race purse isn’t made available to the public anymore.

However, given that the Daytona 500 prize money stays relatively stable for five years, estimates point out that the winner will earn over $1.5 million.

The total Daytona 500 prize money is around $15 million, to be split among the 40-car field.

Daytona 500 Odds by DraftKings Sportsbook

The odds for Daytona 500 are offered by DraftKings Sportsbook.

Good luck! 

DriverDraftKings Sportsbook
Chase Eliott+1000
Denny Hamlin+1000
Joey Logano+1000
Brad Keselowski+1000
Kyle Busch+1100
Kevin Harvick+1100
Martin Truex Jr+1300
Ryan Blaney+1400
Alex Bowman+1800
Kurt Busch+1800
William Byron+1800
Aric Almirola+2000
Clint Bowyer+2000
Matt DiBenedetto+2000
Jimmie Johnson+2000

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