Go Bowling 235 at Daytona Road Course (Cup Series) Predictions, Odds & Picks
- To the victor go the spoils—Kevin Harvick starts on the pole at Daytona.
- A great driver in so-so equipment—like Kurt Busch—could win this race.
- One of few drivers with Daytona Road Course experience, Kyle Busch is an underrated pick for Sunday.
NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona Road Course Odds
|Martin Truex Jr.||+400|
Go Bowling 235 Predictions and Picks
Still searching for his first victory in 2020, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch has an excellent chance to fill that void on Sunday. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota starts fourth, and he’s one of few competitors in the field who has on-track experience on the Daytona Road Course.
Kyle Busch +650
How to Watch the Daytona Road Course Cup Race
|Go Bowling 235 Information|
|What||Go Bowling 235 NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Where||Daytona International Speedway Road Course|
|When||Sunday, August 16, 3 p.m. EST|
|How to Watch||NBC|
On Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series makes its first visit to the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, the venue used annually for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race—with one obvious change. For the three NASCAR races on the August 15-16 weekend, the circuit will feature an additional chicane near the Turn 4 exit.
That chicane will extend the layout to 14 turns and 3.57 miles. Sunday’s race is scheduled for 65 laps (234.65 miles), with stage breaks after 15 and 30 laps. The Go Bowling 235 is the 23rd event in the revised 2020 Cup schedule. After Sunday’s race, a doubleheader at Dover and a return to Daytona for a race on the traditional oval, the Playoff field for the Cup Series will be set.
Recent Success Puts Kevin Harvick on Pole at Daytona Road Course
NASCAR has changed the way its starting fields are set, and Kevin Harvick is the first beneficiary. Instead of drawing for the top 12 starting spots among the top 12 in car owner points—as has been the case since the reopening in May—the sanctioning body has devised a formula that includes most recent finishing position, fastest lap in the most recent race and position in the standings.
As the winner of both Michigan races last week, Harvick has earned the pole for the debut race on the Daytona Road Course, and he’s likely to use that track position to advantage. Two of Harvick’s 55 career victories have come at road courses—one at Sonoma and one at Watkins Glen. And no driver has been hotter in recent weeks than The Closer, who has posted nine straight results of fifth or better, including four wins.
Harvick, however, has never focused on past success, no matter how dramatic.
“I think the most important thing is to stay focused on the week-to-week attitude of trying to prepare the best that you can,” Harvick says. “Win or lose last week, on Monday you have to be preparing for the next week. It’s ultra-important to have a short-term memory. I think our team does a really good job with that, making sure we’re prepared for the next race the best that we can. You take all you can out of that on Monday morning, then move on to the next one.”
A Great Driver in So-So Equipment—Like Kurt Busch—Could Win on Sunday
On an oval track, it’s difficult to win a NASCAR event without one of the fastest cars in the race. That axiom is not applicable at a road course, where driving skill is a larger part of the equation.
Kurt Busch’s cars at Chip Ganassi Racing are good—but not good enough to run up front consistently with the likes of Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Nevertheless, Busch has managed to post 14 top 10s in 22 races this season.
Busch’s elite skills can make a difference on road courses. In 19 starts at Sonoma Raceway, he has posted a win, a pole and 10 top 10s. At Watkins Glen, he has a pole and 10 top 10s in 19 starts. And in two trips to the Charlotte Roval, Busch has a pole and a top-five to his credit.
“I look at this the same way as all through this year,” says Busch, who has scored six top 10s in his last eight road course races. “The challenges are so different, and the factors of all of these things that we’re looking at for the first time, reminds me of when I was making my first start at Sonoma in a Southwest Tour car, part of NASCAR’s ladder system back in the day.
“And I was so intimidated by it. I didn’t know what to expect. And my team owner said, ‘Hey, just try to stay on the asphalt and you’ll be okay.’ You know, that’s a lot of what we’ve been trying to juggle in 2020. Just keep it simple, and you’ll be in position for better things to happen.”
Rolex 24 Experience Should Give Kyle Busch an Advantage at Daytona
Little did Kyle Busch know when he competed in the GTD class in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January that he would return to the Daytona Road Course in a Cup car. But with NASCAR’s 2020 schedule revisions eliminating the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins because of COVID-19 concerns, the Daytona Road Course was an inspired replacement.
Teamed with Michael de Quesada, Jack Hawksworth, and Parker Chase, Busch finished ninth in class at the 2020 Rolex. Not only is Busch giving his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates—Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr.—advice on running the road course, but Lexus driver Hawksworth also is helping the JGR drivers.
“I think anytime you’re able to go to a race track and gain some experience, run some laps, obviously it helps with the visual, the pickup points, how the transition of the corner and so on—it helps,” says Busch, who hopes to stop a 22-race winless streak on Sunday. “There’s definitely—I hope, anyway—there’s a little added advantage there.
“The big difference is the cars I drove in the GTD class, they’re very technologically advanced with the brakes and traction control, so a lot of things you can really attack with those cars, plus a lot of downforces, and they’re lighter. Our cars are going to be heavier with more power and less braking ability, so everything is going to be the opposite. It’s going to be like driving a 1960s Cadillac around the track compared to the Rolex 24 car I raced.”
Despite the difference in the vehicles, we believe Busch, with his consummate racing skills, will get the job done.
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association.