Jacksonville Sports Day

Daytona Road Course Welcomes the NASCAR Cup Series

For the first time in NASCAR Cup Series history the series will compete on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course for the inaugural Go Bowling 235 this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET

The Daytona International Speedway Road Course has been measured at 3.61-miles and the competitors will have to navigate through 14 turns; including the newly added chicane on the Frontstretch between Turn 4 and Tri-Oval. This weekend’s Go Bowling 235 will be 65 laps (231.465 miles) and will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 15 laps each and the final stage will be 35 laps.

Over the course of its 71-year history (1949-2020) the NASCAR Cup Series has held 129 road course races among 11 different tracks, the Daytona Road Course will be 12th different road course the series has competed on. Riverside International Raceway has hosted the series-most road course events at 48; followed by Watkins Glen International with 37.

The 129 NASCAR Cup Series road course races have produced 52 different winners, led by NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon with nine victories (Sonoma: five wins, Watkins Glen: four) and Tony Stewart with eight (Sonoma: three, Watkin Glen: five). NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison holds NASCAR Cup Series record for the most wins on a single road course with six victories at Riverside International Speedway (1971, 1973, 1975, 1979, 1981 sweep).

While this will be the NASCAR Cup Series’ first visit on the road course, the iconic layout that has been the home of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, North America’s premier sports car race, since 1962. Most of the NASCAR Cup Series field will be making their track debuts this weekend, but 10 active drivers entered this week have some experience competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events at the Daytona Road Course – the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Paul Revere 250.

Hendrick Motorsport’s driver and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has made seven Rolex 24 starts posting a career-best finish of runner-up in 2005 and 2008.

“It’s a fun track,” said Johnson. “It might seem like a surprise to some, but in my mind, I felt like it would be a good option. It’s fun just doing different things, new things and this year has brought a lot of that. There’s silver lining moments we’re all experiencing with this pandemic. You look at the schedule and races moving around and Daytona being an example of that with the road course, it’s nice to have something a little different, especially where I sit with my career and looking for new experiences.”

The only other driver with that much experience on the Daytona Road Course is Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell who also made seven starts in the Rolex 24 posting a best finish of third in 2012.

But of the 10 active NASCAR drivers with Daytona Road Course starts only one has ever won at the famed track – Brendan Gaughan finished 12th overall and won the Rolex 24 in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge class in 2011.

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch is the most recent to compete on the road course. He drove a GTD-class Toyota Lexus-RCF in the 2020 Rolex 24, finishing 26th overall, ninth in class.

While most of the NASCAR Cup Series races on the 2020 schedule focus on turning just left, this weekend the competitors will have to overcome not only turning left and right but also while making their first laps ever on the famous 3.61-mile, 14-turn Daytona International Speedway Road Course.

Of the drivers entered this weekend, 10 have previous NASCAR Cup Series wins on road courses. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch (Sonoma: two wins, Watkins Glen: two) and Martin Truex Jr. (Sonoma: three wins, Watkins Glen: one) lead all active drivers in road course wins with four each.

Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott is the most recent Cup Series winner on a road course taking the checkered flags at two of the three road courses on the 2019 schedule – Watkins Glen International and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.

Playoff Bubble: Four races left to make the postseason

With only four races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season time is running out for the competitors vying for the final six Playoff transfer spots.

A total of 10 drivers have clinched their spot in the postseason on wins – Kevin Harvick (six wins), Denny Hamlin (five), Brad Keselowski (three), Joey Logano (two), Ryan Blaney (one), Chase Elliott (one), Martin Truex Jr. (one), Alex Bowman (one), Austin Dillon (one), Cole Custer (one).

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