CHARLOTTE, NC — The 2019 NASCAR season kicks off this weekend with the Daytona 500, ushering in a new year of racing and a new set of rules for drivers and teams that NASCAR hopes will appeal to fans.
This year marks the 61th anniversary of the NASCAR season launch in Daytona as Cup, Xfinity and Truck series drivers take to the 2.5 mile long track boasting 31-degree banking for three days of racing starting Friday, February 15.
William Byron, who drives Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 24 Chevrolet, won the pole during Daytona 500 qualifying on Feb. 10, with a top speed of 194 mph.
New this year is a new Cup series rules package aimed at ramping up competition among drivers for fans by making aerodynamic changes to the cars that reduce horsepower and speed and, consequently, keep them closer together on the track. It won’t go into effect, however, until the second race of the 2019 season, in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press.
According to NASCAR officials, it’s a move to level the playing field and get back to the sport’s roots.
“We know we’ve got some of the brightest engineers in all of sports and what you see with the low-downforce package is a number of increased entry speeds at times, which makes it more difficult probably to produce a tire that has great wear that the drivers always ask for,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “It makes it more of an emphasis on engineering and wind tunnels versus what we’re all about, and that’s the drivers and hard side-by-side racing.”
The new rules aren’t without controversy, however.
“NASCAR is hoping the horsepower reduction and aerodynamic modifications will create better racing by keeping cars closer together. However, several drivers have voiced their displeasure with the direction and believe their talents will be eroded by the potentially new style of racing,” Pete Pistone of Motor Racing Network said recently. “It will no doubt take at least a half dozen races to get a better understanding of what lies ahead.”
Here is the schedule for upcoming Daytona 500 events, as well as the times and channels for event broadcast on Fox, Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio:
Friday, February 15
- 12:05 p.m. — Xfinity Series first practice — FS1
- 1:05 p.m. — Monster Energy Series third practice — FS1, MRN radio
- 2:05 p.m. — Xfinity Series final practice — FS1
- 3:05 p.m. — Monster Energy Series fourth practice — FS1, MRN
- 4:40 p.m. — Gander Outdoors Truck series qualifying — FS1
- 7:30 p.m. — NextEra Energy 250 – truck series — FS1, MRN
Saturday, February 16
- 9:40 a.m. — Xfinity series qualifying — FS1
- 12:05 p.m. — Monster Energy Series final practice — FS1, MRN
- 2:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series NASCAR Racing Experience 300 — FS1, MRN
Sunday, February 17
- 2:30 p.m. — Monster Energy Series Daytona 500 — FOX, MRN
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