The world-famous Daytona 500 will kickstart the 76th season of NASCAR racing where Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney he will begin his championship defense.

Drivers will tackle 500 miles around the illustrious Daytona International Speedway which, just less than one month ago, hosted the enthralling Daytona 24 Hours where Porsche Penske Motorsport won by 2.1 seconds ahead of Cadillac in a grandstand finish on its 3.56-mile road course.

But from the week starting 12 February it will be time for America’s stock cars to face the historic Florida venue’s 2.5-mile, high-banked oval with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as the defending Daytona 500 winner.

Stenhouse Jr is one of seven Daytona 500 winners on this year’s grid, yet Blaney is not one of them – having come extremely close and even been put on the wall by his Penske team-mate Austin Cindric on the dash to the finish line in 2022 – so will the newly-crowned Cup champion finally clinch victory at the famous speedway?

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford Mustang

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

When is the Daytona 500?

  • Date: Sunday 18 February
  • Time: 2:30pm ET

The opening round of the 2024 NASCAR Cup season, the Daytona 500, starts at 2:30pm local time on Sunday 18 February.

But before the Daytona 500 is qualifying on Wednesday, and the Duel races that set the grid behind the front row on Thursday, leading up to Sunday’s main event.

date

session

Session start time

Wednesday 14 February

Daytona 500 qualifying

8:15pm ET

Thursday 15 February

Duel Race 1

7pm ET

Thursday 15 February

Duel Race 2

8:45pm ET

Friday 16 February

Daytona 500 Practice 1

5:35pm ET

Saturday 17 February

Daytona 500 Practice 2

10:30am ET

Sunday 18 February

Daytona 500

2:30pm ET

How does qualifying work for the Daytona 500?

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is unlike anything in motorsport, particularly Formula 1 where everything happens on the same weekend.

On the Tuesday before, a random draw takes place and this decides the order cars will take to the track for Wednesday’s qualifying. The final 20 spots though are given to the 20 highest scoring drivers from the previous year, because there is an advantage to setting a hot lap later due to track evolution.

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is a single-car, one-lap format. So, each driver gets one flying lap around the tri-oval and the two fastest cars will be locked into the front-row for Sunday’s Daytona 500. The other qualifying times determine the starting grid for both Duel races, which decides the line-up from third to 40th for the Daytona 500.

2023 Daytona 500 front row: Kyle Larson, & Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaros

2023 Daytona 500 front row: Kyle Larson, & Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaros

Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images

The Duels are of 60 laps, covering 150 miles, and the results of the first race determine the inside row for the 500, while the second one decides Sunday’s outside row.

But 36 spots for the ‘Great American Race’ are guaranteed for chartered teams, who compete in every round during a NASCAR Cup season. This means the other four spots are given to so-called ‘open teams’ who compete part-time, so there will be drivers who fail to qualify for the Daytona 500 if there are over 40 entrants [at the time of writing there are 41 cars entered].

The two fastest open teams in one-lap qualifying will automatically qualify for the 500 without needing to compete in the Duels. The other two spots are then determined by both Duels and the final four grid positions for the Daytona 500 are assigned to the open teams.

Only after qualifying and the Duel races have been run two practice sessions taken place, for race preparation on Friday and Saturday.

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Ally Chevrolet Camaro and Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro

Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Ally Chevrolet Camaro and Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

How can I watch the Daytona 500?

In America, FOX will broadcast the Daytona 500 live, with pre-race coverage beginning on FS1 at 11am ET, which is three and a half hours before lights out. FOX Sports 1 will broadcast every session live for the Daytona 500, beginning with qualifying on Wednesday at 8pm ET, and it is also available via the FOX Sports app.

FOX Sports 1 will also live broadcast the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Truck Series, which are both supporting events for the Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 500 is also available via FuboTV, YouTube TV, Sling TV and Hulu+, meaning the action can be live streamed on a mobile or tablet device, as well as a console.

date

session

network

Program start time

Wednesday 14 February

Daytona 500 qualifying

FOX Sports 1

8pm ET

Thursday 15 February

Duel Races 1 and 2

FOX Sports 1

6pm ET

Friday 16 February

Daytona 500 Practice 1

FOX Sports 1

5:30pm ET

Saturday 17 February

Daytona 500 Practice 2

FOX Sports 1

10:30am ET

Sunday 18 February

Daytona 500 pre-race

FOX Sports 1

11am ET

Sunday 18 February

Daytona 500 race

FOX

2:30pm ET

Non-American viewers can watch the Daytona 500 via Viaplay Sports 1, who will broadcast certain sessions during the week.

Viaplay Sports 1 will first live broadcast both Duels on Thursday 15 February with coverage starting at 11:30pm GMT. The network will next broadcast the Daytona 500 on Sunday 18 February with its pre-race coverage beginning at 6:30pm GMT – one hour before lights out.

Viaplay Total Monthly costs £14.99 per month for new customers.

date

session

network

Program start time

Thursday 15 February

Duel Races 1 and 2

Viaplay Sports 1

11:30pm GMT

Sunday 18 February

Daytona 500

Viaplay Sports 1

6:30pm GMT

Where can I watch highlights of the Daytona 500?

Last year the NASCAR on FOX YouTube channel uploaded highlights soon after the Daytona 500 had finished, while doing the same for the sessions which preceded it that week.

The official NASCAR YouTube channel currently has a full replay of the 2023 Daytona 500, so follow the various NASCAR platforms to watch a highlights package – or the full race again – as soon as it drops.

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Watch: Stenhouse wins longest Daytona 500 in NASCAR history

What type of track is Daytona International Speedway?

Daytona’s tri-oval course is a 2.5-mile layout with four designated corners that have a 31-degree banking, while it is an 18-degree banking along the start-finish area, which is located in the grandstand-lined tri-oval section .

The Daytona 500 features 200 laps of the oval which takes close to four hours to complete. It is one of three Cup circuits considered to be “drafting tracks” – when cars line up one behind each other to get a speed boost like the slipstream – alongside Talladega Superspeedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.

This is different from the sports car course used for the Daytona 24 Hours, which is a 3.56-mile layout with 12 corners including all four banked turns but some of the infield section as well.

Rain clouds at the Daytona 500

Rain clouds at the Daytona 500

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

Daytona 500 weather forecast

Occasional rain showers are forecast for the 2024 Daytona 500 weekend, with air temperatures going up to 68F while drivers are likely to face a stout breeze as well, which always impacts the drafting.

Considering Daytona’s location along the Florida coastline, rain is not too common at the 500 due to its February date. But long-range forecasts are often unreliable due to its tropical climate.

When it last rained for the 500, in 2021, the race was delayed by almost six hours – so when showers do fall at the speedway, they hit hard! As with most of the American oval racing, the cars will not run if it rains as they only use slick tires.

However, weather during the preceding week is not too bad with Daytona 500 qualifying and the Duels both expected to take place in sunny conditions on Wednesday and Thursday.

NASCAR at Daytona Speedweeks schedule

Date and time

Event

Wednesday 14 February

8:15pm ET

NASCAR Cup Daytona 500 Qualifying

Thursday 15 February

5:05pm ET

NASCAR Truck Series Practice

7pm ET

NASCAR Cup Duel Race 1

8:45pm ET

NASCAR Cup Duel Race 2

Friday 16 February

3pm ET

NASCAR Truck Series Qualifying

4:35pm ET

NASCAR Xfinity Series Practice

5:35pm ET

NASCAR Cup Daytona 500 Practice 1

7:30pm ET

NASCAR Truck Series Daytona 250

Saturday 17 February

10:30am ET

Daytona 500 Practice 2

11:30am ET

NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying

5pm ET

NASCAR Xfinity Series Daytona 300

Sunday 18 February

2:30pm ET

Daytona 500

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