This weekend, NASCAR makes their final trip (for the forseeable future) to Daytona International Speedway on July 4 weekend for a summer spectacle: the Coke Zero 400.
Here's what we're watching for on Saturday night in the Coke Zero 400 (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EDT on NBC).
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Thursday, July 4
1:05 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)
2:05 – 2:55 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)
3:05 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)
4:05 – 4:55 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)
Friday, July 5
3:35 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; single car/one lap (NBCSN)
5:05 p.m. – Cup qualifying; single car/one lap (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
7 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions
7:30 p.m. – Circle K Firecracker 250; 100 laps/250 miles (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Saturday, July 6
7:30 p.m. – Coke Zero Sugar 400; 160 laps/400 miles (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Daytona International Speedway: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Race information: 160 laps, 400 miles
Stage lengths: 50 laps, 50 laps, 60 laps
Defending winner: Erik Jones
Most wins (in July race): David Pearson (5)
All Good Things Come To An End
Well, it's been a good ride.
2019 marks the final season in which the July 4 race weekend will be held at Daytona. The tradition dates back to the early days of NASCAR, and has made for some cool moments. Especially this one, with "The King" Richard Petty and President Ronald Reagan sharing some Kentucky Fried Chicken on Independence Day weekend. It doesn't get much better than that...
The reason for the change is the schedule. Fans, drivers and teams alike have been clammering for a shakeup in the schedule, and they're getting it for 2020. The second Daytona race will be the regular season finale, sure to put on a show as drivers vy for the final playoff spot.
Last Shot At Surprise Winner?
This weekend also marks the possible final weekend where a surprise winner winds up in Victory Lane.
Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway always present the opportunity for smaller, underfunded teams to be on par with the big bad wolfs of Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing. Why? The close quarters aspect of superspeedway racing evens the playing field, as allcars theoretically are on the same wavelength.
2019 has been all about the new aerodynamic rules package. But before any of that got started, the Daytona 500 happened. With the old iteration of the package.
This weekend will mark the first time that no restrictor plates will be used at DIS. Other changes specific to Daytona from the other superspeedway race that was held at Talladega earlier this season include:
- 0.922-inch tapered spacer (replacing the restrictor plate)
- 9-inch rear spoiler
- 1-inch bolt-on track bar mount
- Tapered radiator pan
- Two-inch splitter overhang
- Aero ducts
What does that all mean? NASCAR wants to avoid the cars getting airborne at high speeds. They believe these changes will help with that, along with improving the racing.
Next week, NASCAR heads to the bluegrass state in Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 on Saturday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. EDT.