With the eagerly anticipated introduction of the new Next Gen NASCAR, this years Daytona 500 looks set to be a classic.
This time of year is synonymous with hype, drama and excitement as the build up to the Daytona 500 reaches a crescendo following Walero athlete Joey Logano’s scintillating victory at the Busch Clash at the LA Coliseum earlier in the month.
In 2022, there’s more hype, drama and excitement than ever before as the NASCAR Cup Series embarks on an exciting new chapter with the launch of the brand-new Next Gen racing machines.
Delayed by a year because of the pandemic, enthusiasm for the new breed of NASCAR competition has never been higher. The incredible scenes seen at The Clash earlier in the month have only whetted appetites further.
These Next Gen cars are an evolution of the previous generation and feature improved aerodynamics and downforce packages compared to their previous counterparts. They’re also cheaper to run, with the aim of enticing new manufacturers to challenge Chevrolet, Ford & Toyota in the pinnacle of stock car racing.
The new challengers feature an all-new transmission system – switching from the previous four-speed manual to an upgraded five-speed Xtrac sequential transmission, much like the systems found in other contemporary race cars. New wheels are also a stand-out feature with the outgoing 15” rims set to be replaced by supersized 18” wheels.
Daytona has played host to the Cup Series season-opener for forty years. Dubbed the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing”, the Daytona 500 is one of the Crown Jewel events on the NASCAR calendar alongside the GEICO 500, Southern 500, Coca Cola 600, and the Verizon 200 at Indianapolis. It’s watched by millions both in the United States and across the globe.
A distance of 500 miles across 200 laps often produces flat-out action, drama and carnage. In 2021, Michael McDowell signed his name in the history books as one of just eight drivers in history to claim their maiden Cup Series victory at the Daytona 500. It was his 358th NASCAR Cup Series event.
Rewind ten years earlier than that and Trevor Bayne achieved an even more remarkable feat – becoming the youngest winner of the 500 a day after his 20th birthday, in just his second career start. It would be his only NASCAR Cup Series victory.
But what may lie in store this weekend? After his thrilling victory at the Clash earlier in February, Joey Logano is on top form with the 2018 Cup Series Champion looking to add a second title to his name in 2022. The 31-year-old will also be racing to become just the sixth driver in history to win the 500 just days after winning the Clash.
A total of 42 drivers hope to take part in the race but, with space for just 40, two have already been sent home. Walero athletes Joey Logano, Cody Ware and Corey LaJoie have all qualified and with 36 chartered entries guaranteed a spot, the remaining six entries will battle it out for those four remaining slots. Boasting the two fastest speeds among the non-chartered teams in Wednesday night’s qualifying, F1 world champion Jacques Villenueve has claimed his place on the starting grid and is now set to make his Daytona 500 debut this weekend.