The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series begins on Sunday with the Daytona 500.
JTG Daugherty Racing will lead the field at the start after new driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took pole, with Hendrick Motorsports' Alex Bowman claiming second on the grid.
NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson races in his final Daytona 500 after announcing he will change disciplines at the end of the season. The 44-year-old starts sixth on the grid and will be hoping to begin his last campaign in style with a third Daytona 500 victory.
Date: Sunday, Feb. 16
Time: 2:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. GMT
TV Schedule: Fox (U.S.), Premier Sports 1 (UK)
Coverage begins on Fox at 11 a.m ET. The full schedule can be found at the speedway's official website.
Stenhouse joined JTG Daugherty Racing after a decade with Roush Fenway Racing ahead of the 2020 season, and his natural aggression is perfectly matched to his latest vehicle.
In conversation with Eric Johnson of Racer, Stenhouse said he's looking forward seeing what he can get out of his new car:
"Yeah, it definitely is a fast car. Any time you qualify that fast, you’re always kind of curious if the car is going to drive good during the race and if it is going to be ale to do the things it needs to do to stay up front, and it definitely did. I was surprised about that, and I think other people were too. It was also a good opportunity for us to show the other competitors and sort of say, ‘Yeah, it’s fast, but it also drives good enough to make the moves that I need to make'."
Stenhouse tweeted about his delight at winning pole position for the race:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. @StenhouseJr
Pretty special day yesterday for me and my whole @JTGRacing team. It was a all hands on deck team effort to build the speed into these cars and I’m thankful it worked out to grab the pole for the #greatamericanrace #daytona #daytona500 #shapedlikeabullet https://t.co/EHpOOzmThg
His pole might have surprised a few, and the grid positions of Joe Gibbs Racing pair Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch—21st and 28th, respectively—suggest a surprise result could be in the offing.
Hamlin won last year's Daytona 500, and Busch placed second on his way to the Cup Series crown. After the best season of his career, with 19 top-five finishes recorded in 2019, Hamlin will believe he can beat Busch to the Cup Series title.
Elsewhere, there will be plenty of emotion trackside when Johnson takes his place in his final Daytona 500. After a NASCAR career that has seen him become a seven-time Cup Series champion, Johnson will bid farewell to the Great American Race.
Johnson hasn't won a race since June 2017, but his grid position could help him to cause a surprise if he can roll back the years.