NASCAR's young look on display for Daytona


The nickname "Bowman the Showman" has started to make the rounds on the Monster Energy Cup Series.

It's a new season with new drivers, new rules and new tools as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup teams take to the Daytona International Speedway to kick off the 2018 season with the Daytona 500.

Harvick and Jones finished behind Elliott, 22, who earned his third Duel victory in three tries at Daytona International Speedway.

New ride-height rules have the cars dragging tail and spraying sparks off the asphalt.

In addition, NASCAR trimmed the number of over-the-wall pit crew members from six to five, making pit stops a bit trickier and slower.

Denny Hamlin - Always strong in Daytona, the 2016 victor of the 500 has a strong team and Joe Gibbs Racing is prepared to put him back on the top of the podium. "It's not the (Daytona) 500". He made a bold race-winning move in the Duel, which displayed his willingness to take risks. Other big-hitters in that race include Chase Elliott (qualified 10th; will start Duel 2 in 5th), who won his Duel past year, Kevin Harvick (qualified 8th, will start Duel 2 in 4th), Kyle Larson (qualified 22nd, will start Duel 2 in 11th) and 2017 Cup champion Martin Truex Jr (qualified 26th, will start Duel 2 in 13th).

While it may be hard for some to fathom Benton's simplistic view of such a significant event, it comes as no surprise to those who know him.

Only 25 of the 40-car starting field participated in Saturday's final 500 practice. Expect Keselowski to join his teammates at the front pretty quickly.

Brad Keselowski won the Clash at Daytona on Sunday and is the listed odds-on favorite, but will also have to go from worst-to-first on Sunday.

Though his spot in the front row at the Daytona 500 is already secured no matter what happens on Thursday, the 24-year-old will be looking to grab some early championship points.

Joey Logano. The Team Penske driver's redemption tour kicks off early, as Logano becomes the latest two-time victor of the Great American Race. We have seen Daytona 500s before that ended with surprise winners due to fuel issues or a big wreck. Byron was joined by Hendrick and fellow NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon at Liberty's first fall Convocation later that month when it was announced that he would inherit the No. 24 vehicle from Jeff Gordon, NASCAR's winningest Cup Series driver of the modern era. Dillon was an 11 place driver in the Cup standings previous year.

"Judging from how we ran tonight, we have a lot of work to do before the (Daytona) 500", said Truex. While the team will be one of the smallest in Daytona, Benton feels like he has a secret weapon.

Ryan Blaney, in the No. 12 auto, and teammate Joey Logano battled it out for the win in Duel No. 1 Thursday night in Daytona.

The 2012 Cup Series champion crashed into Jamie McMurray when he drifted down to the middle of the track and darted back up into the No. 1. A decade ago, 53 drivers ran a qualifying lap.

The two Thursday winners get to start in the second row Sunday behind another youngster (24-year-old Alex Bowman) and veteran Denny Hamlin. Dillon is a guy that could steal a win with a little luck today. That tension exists in many races, but Joy said it's particularly notable with Daytona, thanks to it being such a widely-watched race and also coming at the start of the season, rather than partway in.

"I mean gosh you worry about being caught up in a wreck, you don't worry about getting a soft tire or a flat tire and causing a wreck", Johnson said.

John Wiedemann is the owner, editor and developer of the website. He has five top ten finishes in nine starts at Daytona.

"This is really a dream come true to be part of the Cup Series and be with a great race team that has a chance to win", Byron said in a Hendrick Motorsports release.