The Daytona 500 is one of the most iconic races in all of motorsports, and it always kicks off the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. In two weeks, NASCAR fans can take a break from the winter weather and sit back to enjoy the race on February 22. However, before the race gets the green flag, the popular racing series’ comeback is celebrated with “Speedweeks.”
Speedweeks is a series of racing events held in January and February leading up to the Daytona 500. This year, Speedweeks began with the running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, otherwise known as the 24 hours of Daytona. While most of the other events during the week will focus on NASCAR, the Rolex 24 is the first race of the season for the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship.
NASCAR events commence two weeks later, beginning with the Lucas Oil 200 for the ARCA racing series and the Sprint Unlimited race on Valentine’s Day. As the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported, the Sprint Unlimited is a 75-lap non-points event that features last year’s polesitters, past event winners, and other selected polesitters. While in the past the race was broken into three parts, this season there are two sections to the race. The race will stop for a caution at lap 25 and then continue for another 50 laps.
The racing events continue on Sunday, February 15, with Sprint Cup qualifying to determine which cars will be on the front rows for Daytona 500. Just as with other Sprint Cup races, the format is group qualifying, also called knock-out qualifying. Along with setting the field for the main race on Feb. 22, it will also set the field for the Budweiser Duel race. The Budweiser Duel, which takes place on Thursday February 19, is a 150-lap qualifying race that will help finalize who starts where in the Daytona 500.
On Friday night, February 20, NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series will hold its first race of the season, the Nextera Energy Resources 250. Then on Saturday night, the Xfinity Series cars will take to the track in the Alert Today Florida 300. For the uninformed, the Xfinity Series was the Nationwide Series last year, but Nationwide decided to end their sponsorship with NASCAR. As reported by USA Today, Comcast signed a 10-year agreement to sponsor the NASCAR junior series with their Xfinity brand.
The next day, Sunday February 22, is the “Great American Race,” the always heavily-anticipated Daytona 500. As reported by the Inquisitr, last year’s Daytona 500 was won by NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The race begins at 1 pm ET and it will be aired on FOX.
Are you are ready for NASCAR’s comeback? Who do you think will win this year’s Daytona 500? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
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