Daytona 500 2020: Storylines to Watch in NASCAR's Season Opener

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2020

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 09: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, races Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Advent Health Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 09, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

The Daytona 500 will kick-start a new season of NASCAR Cup Series racing in 2020, with some of the world's best drivers seeking to secure a win at this iconic circuit Sunday.

The clash at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida will be the trigger for a jam-packed year of NASCAR battles, with 26 races to come in the regular season.

Getting into the Cup Series Playoffs won't be on the minds of the drivers yet, with crossing the line first and taking the chequered flag this weekend their primary concern. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will lead the drivers off, having qualified for pole position earlier in the week.

Here are the key details for Sunday's race and a look at some of the most intriguing storylines ahead of the new season.

   

Race Details

Venue: Daytona International Speedway, Florida

Date: Sunday, February 16

Race Start Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

   

Preview

The Daytona International Speedway Twitter account provided a preview of what can be expected come race day:

Stenhouse Jr. performed brilliantly in his new Chevrolet Camaro last Sunday, taking the top spot with a fastest lap of 194.582 mph:

Alex Bowman will join him on the front row, and there is a clutch of high-class drivers behind them. 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano is third following his strong display in the first Bluegreen Vacations Duel, while William Byron won the second and starts fourth.

With Erik Jones winning the exhibition Busch Clash, at the moment there's no standout favourite for Sunday's showdown. It means the upcoming edition of The Great American Race should be a classic one.

One of the most intriguing storylines ahead of the contest is the edge between Logano and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch; at the Busch Clash, the latter caused a crash that brought an end to Logano's race, as well as Brad Keselowski's:

Per Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass, afterwards Keselowski was fuming with his Joe Gibbs Racing team-mates:

Should that trio come side-to-side at any point in Sunday's race, it'll be fascinating to see if their natural race aggressiveness is tempered. They have ground to make up on Logano, though, with Keselowski starting in ninth and the defending champion well down in 28th.

Busch will be desperate to get into the mix for the top spots, as a strong performance at Daytona a year ago set up his title-winning season. He was the runner-up in the 2019 race; that was one of six podium finishes in the first eight races of the campaign, three of which were wins.

Per NASCAR's Nate Ryan, despite struggling in qualifying, the champion was still in a bullish mood ahead of the race:

Denny Hamlin was the winner of this event a year ago and will need to recover from 21st on the grid if he's to join the five men to have won the race on three or more occasions.

Martin Truex Jr. was the standout driver for much of the 2019 season, although he wasn't able to get the better of Busch at the sharp end of the campaign. His fight for a second Cup Series win will begin from 15th on Sunday.

Read 22 Comments

Don’t let them do all the trash talkingGet the B/R app to join the conversation

Related

    New NFL Draft Big Board 📋

    @nfldraftscout reveals his latest rankings with one month to go

    Featured logo
    Featured

    New NFL Draft Big Board 📋

    Matt Miller
    via Bleacher Report

    Olympics Announce New Dates

    Tokyo games will take place in 2021 from July 23 to August 8

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Olympics Announce New Dates

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    Every Team's Biggest Need Late in FA

    There's a hole on each team that needs to be filled before the regular season

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Every Team's Biggest Need Late in FA

    Kristopher Knox
    via Bleacher Report

    These Teams Will Be Better Than You Think 👀

    B/R picks one team in each division that will exceed your expectations ➡️

    Featured logo
    Featured

    These Teams Will Be Better Than You Think 👀

    Zachary D. Rymer
    via Bleacher Report