Some fans enjoy the spectacle of big crashes, and many more enjoy that at those tracks at which the winner is hard to predict. That was the chief motivation for shifting the second Daytona race.
“Daytona is truly a race that anyone can win,” said Kevin Harvick, the 2007 Daytona winner. “You have to have some luck on your side. Not knowing who’s going to make the playoffs until that race is over is really great for our sport.”
“At Richmond or Indy the chance of someone getting into the playoffs was very low,” he said. “We’ve got more casual fans that want to be entertained.”
In the bulk of NASCAR races, away from the superspeedways, races can sometimes fall into predictable patterns. Often six or seven drivers quickly pull away, and after 20 to 30 laps, most of field is essentially eliminated.
That is compounded by the gap between the top teams and the rest. Joe Gibbs Racing had three of the four drivers contesting the championship on the last day of the 2019 season, Busch, Truex and Denny Hamlin. Just behind Gibbs was Team Penske, with the fifth, seventh and eighth place drivers.
But like most races on superspeedways, the Daytona 500 on Sunday will be much harder to predict.
For this year’s Daytona, oddsmakers say that no driver is a shorter price than 10-1, with Logano, Busch, Elliott, defending champion Hamlin and Brad Keselowski all in the mix. As many as 20 drivers are at 25-1 or shorter. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished no better than fifth in any NASCAR top-circuit race last year, earned the pole.
Another major change for 2020 is the name of the series itself. NASCAR has been closely identified with a title sponsor, Winston, for decades, and most recently Monster Energy. But for 2020 the series will be known simply as the “NASCAR Cup Series.”