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Saturday’s vehicle racing roundup: The Daytona 500 is an antique race with a new appearance

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Among those trying to win the Daytona 500 this yr is a Florida watermelon farmer, a brief-music champion from New England, a tv analyst, and a 22-year-old whose career nearly changed into derailed with the aid of a brain tumor.

The front row is the youngest in Daytona 500 records. It could be William Byron, a Liberty University scholar who had his know-how teeth eliminated in the offseason, leading the sector to inexperienced in Sunday’s showcase race to kick off the NASCAR season.

The standard look of the kingdom’s pinnacle racing series has gone through a metamorphosis a previous couple of seasons, and the proof is plastered on the hood of Corey LaJoie’s vehicle. His entire facial-haired face ornaments his Ford Mustang, which effortlessly makes him the most recognizable driver of many of the 8 Daytona 500 newbies.


“He looks as if he’s going to eat you each lap,” stated Clint Bowyer. LaJoie’s paint scheme for his low-budget group is courtesy of his sponsor, Old Spice, which selected “The Great American Race” to sell its dry shampoo. Manscaped.Com sold the distance at Landon Cassill’s car again, Bubba Wallace signed Aftershokz headphones for the race. After Casey Mears made the sector – his first race in years – a skateboard rim maker, Rim Ryderz, joined his software.

This Daytona 500 is not like any in current memory and indeed highlights the dramatic lack of celebrity power from just four years in the past. The 2015 race featured Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip, and Danica Patrick. All are now retired. Some of the big-cash sponsors in that race covered Lowe’s, Target, Dollar General, GoDaddy, and five-Hour Energy. All have because pulled out of NASCAR.

But change has created possibility – even second and 0.33 probabilities for a guy like Ross Chastain. The 8th-generation watermelon farmer inspired a sponsor and his paintings ethic and landed a career-converting experience with surprising funding.

Ryan Preece bounced to and fro among NASCAR and New England short tracks before, in the end, playing on his future. He settled for a part-time task with an activist group because he believed he should show his real expertise if given the proper device. Now he’s also a Daytona 500 rookie.

Same with Matt Tifft, who discovered he had a brain tumor four races into his 2016 season. Parker Kligerman, an element-time racer and full-time tv character, is in his 2nd Daytona 500. “I went off and did the TV thing,” stated Kligerman. “You’ve seen drivers do that before, where they do something to up their profile, then they get lower back in a trip. It form of feels love; it’s subsequently all beginning to work.”

THE BIGGEST Toyota stars skipped the final practice, with former NASCAR champs Martin Truex Jr. And Kyle Busch most of the drivers sitting out.

Michael McDowell published the quickest lap at 191.440 mph within the No. 34 Ford. Former Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray had a pinnacle pace of one hundred ninety.118 as he prepped for what is expected to be the very last race of his NASCAR career.

XFINITY: Michael Annett raced to his first NASCAR national series victory within the season opener at Daytona. Annett held off JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier on the very last lap. It’s the fourth Daytona victory in 5 years for the group owned via Dale Earnhardt Jr. And his sister.

Allgaier completed second for a 1-2 Chevrolet end. Brandon Jones was 0.33 in Toyota’s debut of the Supra inside the Xfinity Series. SAM BASS, a NASCAR artist who helped layout paint schemes and application covers that illuminated a whole recreation, died at age 57. Bass, who changed into NASCAR’s first officially certified artist, suffered from kidney troubles.