Daytona 500: How to watch, Free live stream, preview, picks for the 2023 Great American Race

by Keven S. Reinhart
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For NASCAR, the 75th season kicks off with the 65th Daytona 500. FLORIDA; DAYTONA BEACH — Seventy-five years ago, the best brains in stock car racing got together at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to figure out how to save the sport from extinction. Bill France Sr. convened the gathering that led to the formation of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing to standardize racing for ordinary cars.

The Daytona International Speedway is NASCAR’s most famous course, and it all began at the beachside city of Daytona Beach, where the organization was founded. Even after three-quarters of a century, the Daytona 500 and Daytona International Speedway are still the most prestigious auto races in the world.

This Sunday marks the start of the 75th anniversary season of NASCAR, as well as the 2023 season of the NASCAR Cup Series, with the 65th running of the Daytona 500. Historically and currently, these 200 laps and 500 miles around Daytona constitute NASCAR’s premier event and have the potential to radically change the course of any driver’s career. A driver’s reputation may be called into question if they do not have a victory in this race on their résumé, while the most unassuming racer can achieve immortal fame with even one victory.

Those are the stories being told at this year’s Speedweeks: Some of the best drivers in NASCAR history have yet to win the Daytona 500, including multiple Cup Series champions and future Hall of Famers. Meanwhile, the Rookie of the Year from the previous season is back to protect his title.

When & where the 65th annual Daytona 500

  • Date:, Feb. 19
  • Location: Daytona International Speedway — Daytona Beach, Fla.
  • Time:2:30 p.m. ET

How to watch Daytona 500 Live for Free:

Viewers around the world can watch the action live on the following channels and here for free:

What time does the Daytona 500 start?

  • Pre-race show: 1 p.m. EST. (FOX)
  • Start time: 2:30 p.m. EST. (FOX)
  • Stages: 65-65-70 (200 laps, 500 miles)

What to watch

Enjoying each other’s (three) companionship

Both of the last two Daytona 500s have been won by drivers making their first NASCAR Cup Series start. Following Michael McDowell’s 2021 transformation from a career journeyman to the Daytona 500 winner, Austin Cindric pulled off a similar feat in 2022, winning the race in only his eighth Cup start by holding off a horde of veterans on the final lap.
It seems unlikely that the Daytona 500 will have a third consecutive first-time victor this year.

Not only has that never happened in the race’s history, but after five drivers made their first trip to Victory Lane in 2022, the Cup Series is running out of potential first-time winners. Superspeedway racing features a level playing field, so anything can happen. Drivers like Ryan Preece and Corey LaJoie have been in the hunt at the finish of this race before, and Cup Rookies Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson are affiliated with top teams, so anything is possible.

In Cindric’s instance, he would join Sterling Marlin (1994, 1995) as the only driver to win the first time a driver has won Daytona 500 in back-to-back years.

Read More: How To Watch 2023 Nascar Cup Series: Dates, Times, Tv Networks And Free Live Streaming For All Cup Series Races

Veteran’s valour

While the last two Daytona 500s have seen surprising winners, for others it has been yet another frustrating attempt to take home the trophy. Cup champions like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr., who are all among the best of their age but have never won the Daytona 500, are continuing the decades-long quest of drivers like Buddy Baker, Darrell Waltrip, and Dale Earnhardt.

Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson, two recent Cup champions, have both fallen short here, most recently in 2017 when they were dominating but ran out of fuel. Although Ryan Blaney has perfected the art of exiting Turn 4 in contention for the win, he has yet to grasp the art of crossing the finish line first. Like Bubba Wallace, who came in second in both 2018 and 2021, this is an extremely tight call.

The champ is here

As part of his legendary career that includes a record-tying seven Cup championships, Jimmie Johnson used this race as a stepping stone to success, winning it in 2006 and 2013. But the epilogue to his legendary status in auto racing has led him back to Daytona and the NASCAR Cup Series.

Johnson has returned to the NASCAR Cup Series with Legacy Motor Club in 2023 after spending the previous two years racing in IndyCar. In addition to being a co-owner of the team, Johnson will drive the No. 84 Chevy in a few races. Since Johnson qualified for the race during the time trials, he brings an additional level of competition to this year’s 500.

One former Daytona 500 winner is returning to defend his title while another is bidding goodbye. Kevin Harvick, the 2007 Daytona 500 victor, has announced his retirement from NASCAR at the conclusion of the 2023 season, making this year’s race his 22nd and final.

Pick to win

Ryan Blaney (+1200): What you must know about Ryan Blaney is as follows: Every year since 2017 that he has completed the Daytona 500, he has been a serious contender in the final laps. Three times on the final lap, he’s been in second and had an opportunity to pass the leader coming out of Turn 4. This happened both last year and twice before.

Blaney has been stopped dead in his tracks every time he’s tried to cross the finish line. In that situation, however, it stands to reason that Blaney will ultimately get a hit if given enough opportunities to do so. It’s likely that one of NASCAR’s best superspeedway drivers will be able to get himself into that position once more, and this time maybe he’ll be able to lift the Harley J. Earl Trophy for the first time.

 

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