Daytona 500 2019: Storylines to Watch in NASCAR's Season Opener

Jake RillContributor IIIFebruary 17, 2019

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 15:  William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, leads Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500  at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The green flag will drop on the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season Sunday afternoon, when 40 drivers will compete in the Daytona 500.

This is the 61st running of The Great American Race, which last year was won by Austin Dillon. This year's race will begin with Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman leading the field to the start.

It's sure to be an exciting afternoon filled with NASCAR action. Here are some storylines to keep an eye on during this year's Daytona 500.

          

Daytona 500 Information

Date: Sunday, Feb. 17

Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

TV: Fox

       

Logano Looks to Carry Over Momentum

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 16:  Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Phot
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The last time Joey Logano was on a track for a Cup Series race was last year's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That was a good day for Logano, as he raced to victory and clinched his first career Cup Series championship.

Now, Logano will look to get off to a good start in a season that he hopes ends with the same result.

Logano won the Daytona 500 in 2015, and he is starting fourth after winning the second duel qualifying race Thursday night. He's also had other strong past showings in The Great American Race, finishing sixth or better each of the past four years.

A second career Daytona 500 win would be a good way for Logano to carry over the momentum from his strong finish to last season.

         

Will Johnson Create More Controversy?

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 16:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time Cup Series champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner. But he hasn't been making fellow drivers happy during Daytona Speedweeks this year.

Johnson has already had two incidents. In last Sunday's Advance Auto Parts Clash, he made contact with Paul Menard, which led to a multicar wreck that happened as Johnson drove on to win the rain-shortened race. Then, in Thursday's first duel qualifying race, Johnson spun out Kyle Busch.

Both Menard and Busch later said they had moved past their incidents with Johnson, but it will still be interesting to see if anything carries over to the Daytona 500. Or perhaps if Johnson has another incident with a different driver.

Although Johnson may not be making new friends, he should still be a contender Sunday. The No. 48 car is starting 17th, so he'll have to maneuver his way up closer to the front of the pack in order to be in the running for the win during the later stages of the race.

             

Faces in New Places

Like every season, there will be some driver sporting new rides in 2019. Here's a look at drivers who have joined new teams since the end of last year.

Kurt Busch: No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, starting 12th in Daytona 500

Daniel Hemric: No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, starting 29th

Ryan Newman: No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, starting 19th

Martin Truex Jr.: No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, starting 11th

Matt DiBenedetto: No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota, starting ninth

Daniel Suarez: No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, starting 23rd

Ryan Preece: No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet, starting 21st

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