NASCAR at Daytona Road Course 2020: Odds, TV Schedule, Live Stream and Drivers

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

Driver Jimmie Johnson (48) races during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series will face a brand-new challenge Sunday.

The 39-person field will compete on the Daytona International Speedway road course for the first time.

Daytona's road course, which is best known from the 24 Hours of Daytona event, was added to the Cup Series schedule after it was unable to race at Watkins Glen. The race could be a tense affair for all of the competitors, but it may be more stressful for the drivers looking to get into the playoff field.

William Byron is holding on to the final playoff position, but he is just 26 points ahead of Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson. One bad performance could cost any of the contenders in that competition.


Go Bowling 325 Information

Date: Sunday, August 16

Start Time: 3 p.m. ET


Live Stream: NBCSports.com and NBC Sports app


Starting Lineup

Bob Pockrass @bobpockrass

Here is Cup starting lineup for Sunday by row: https://t.co/fVKXH9gsX1



Chase Elliott +400 (bet $100 to win $400)

Martin Truex Jr. +550

Denny Hamlin +600

Kevin Harvick +600

Ryan Blaney +800

Brad Keselowski +900

Kyle Busch +900

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook.



Even the most experienced drivers are not sure what to expect Sunday.

NASCAR's policy of no practice and qualifying, which has been in place since May, was upheld for the Daytona road course despite the lack of track experience. Some drivers have competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona, but an alteration will provide unfamiliarity to those competitors.

Kyle Busch detailed the changes in approaching the track with a chicane before the entrance to the road course portion of the track, per Yahoo's Nick Bromberg:

"The speed you carried from bus stop to the Turn 1 entrance really lent itself to drafting and making moves with the draft and air. So now, with us having the chicane, that's certainly not going to be the case for anyone familiar with the Daytona road course and the Rolex 24. It's one section that has changed, but it will change the whole complexion of the track, in my opinion."

Points leader Kevin Harvick, who starts on the pole, said that he does not know what to expect when leading the field on the first lap, per NASCAR.com's Chase Wilhelm:

"I think me leading everybody into Turn 1 at Daytona could be interesting because I have no freaking clue where I'm going as we go down there. Most everybody in the field is the same way. We'll prepare the best that we can and hope that we can make it around the first lap with all the wheels still headed in the right direction."

The unpredictability may help the drivers looking for an automatic playoff berth through a victory.

Byron headlines the group of drivers in need of that the most since he sits on the bubble. Jones and Johnson are 26 points back of the No. 24 car driver, while Tyler Reddick is 36 points adrift.

Johnson owns the best starting position of the quartet in 11th place. Byron is 13th on the grid, Reddick is 18th and Jones is 20th. The seven-time champion holds an advantage over the other three drivers thanks to his seven trips around the road course during the 24 Hours of Daytona.

But the No. 48 car driver has not driven on the course with the added chicane, so that could be the equalizer if Byron, Jones and Reddick get a better handle of it.

Of the drivers already locked into the postseason field, Harvick and Denny Hamlin have to be considered as favorites to win the race because of their starting positions on the front row. Harvick or Hamlin could grab the lead early on and steer clear of any incidents while extending the lead.

Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. should also be in the mix based off their recent road course success on the Cup Series circuit. Elliott has won the past two road course races and three of the past five, while Truex owns three victories in the previous seven visits to road courses.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from NASCAR.com.