TAKING THE GREEN FOR 2021
It’s among the most prestigious events in auto racing and it kicks off the 2021 season for NASCAR’s premier series: the 63rd running of the Daytona 500. The 2021 Daytona 500 and Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth is six days packed full of events by NASCAR’s three national series that leads to the green flag of “The Great American Race”.
Daytona Speedweeks kicks off with the 43rd Annual Busch Clash at Daytona under the lights tonight, Tuesday, February 9th, at 7:00 p.m. ET. For the first time in history, the exhibition-style race will take on the track’s 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course. Wednesday’s events include Daytona 500 Qualifying Presented by Kroger, where NASCAR’s stars battle to claim the pole position for the Daytona 500. Next on tap for NASCAR’s premier series are the Bluegreen Vacations Duels, taking the green Thursday, February 11th, at 7:00 p.m. ET on FS1. The two 60-lap, 150-mile events will determine the remaining starting lineup for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
NASCAR’s three national series will take on three days of action at the 2.5-mile Florida superspeedway, with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) kicking off their season opener weekend with the NextEra Energy 250 Friday, February 12th at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1. The ‘World Center of Racing’ has been the host of the season opener for the NCWTS since 2000. Saturday’s action will get underway with an appearance by the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the ‘Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner 300’ on Saturday, February 13th, at 5:00 p.m. ET on FS1. The 2021 Speedweeks is capped off with the NASCAR Cup Series and the 63rd Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 14th, at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX. For the 40th straight year, “The Great American Race” will start the NASCAR Cup Series’ 36-race season.
As NASCAR returns to action for the 2021 season, Daytona International Speedway will be the host to a limited number of fans for an in-person experience of the week’s events. The Daytona 500 is expected to have nearly 30,000 fans in attendance for the race, making it the largest sporting event to take place in the United States since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
BUSCH CLASH AT DAYTONA
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series gets underway tonight with the 43rd Annual Busch Clash at Daytona. For the first time in NASCAR history, the 35-lap, 126.35-mile exhibition-style race will take place on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, which was introduced to the Series in August 2020. The field of competition is limited to: 2020 Busch Pole Award winners, past Busch Clash winners, former Daytona 500 champions, former Daytona 500 Busch Pole winners, 2020 NCS Playoff drivers, 2020 NCS race winners, and 2020 NCS stage winners.
A Chevrolet has made its way to victory lane in the Busch Clash 21 times, more than all other manufacturers. Career Chevrolet driver, Jeff Gordon, is among just six drivers to sweep both the Busch Clash and the Daytona 500 in one year (1997). Gordon also holds the record for appearing in the most consecutive Busch Clash races with 22 (1994 – 2015).
Of the 24 drivers eligible for this year’s Busch Clash, eight (8) Chevrolet drivers met the criteria to compete. Here is the Team Chevy starting lineup:
2nd Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1 1LE
5th William Byron, No. 24 Axalta Camaro ZL1 1LE
6th Tyler Reddick, No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Camaro ZL1 1LE
7th Chase Elliott, No. 9 Llumar Camaro ZL1 1LE
9th Erik Jones, No. 43 RP Funding Camaro ZL1 1LE
15th Kurt Busch, No. 1 AdventHealth Camaro ZL1 1LE
19th Austin Dillon, No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Camaro ZL1 1LE
20th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger/NOS Energy Drink Camaro ZL1 1LE
RACE FOR THE FRONT ROW
The 2021 season brings the return of qualifying at select events, including the Daytona 500. The front row of the prestigious event has been swept by the Bowtie Brand an impressive 18 times, including eight of the last 10 years. The last was 2020, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. put his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Camaro ZL1 1LE on the pole in his debut in a Chevrolet. Joining him, Hendrick Motorsports’, Alex Bowman, qualified on the front row for the third year in a row.
With the front row set by qualifying, Thursday’s two 60-lap, 150-mile Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona will determine the starting lineup for the remaining 40-car field. Hendrick Motorsports’, William Byron, is the latest Chevrolet driver to score a Duel win when he took his No. 24 Camaro ZL1 1LE to victory lane in the 2020 event, capturing his first win in a Cup Series car.
PACING THE FIELD
A trio of Chevrolet high-powered vehicles will lead all three of NASCAR’s national series to the green in the season opener weekend at Daytona International Speedway. Pacing NASCAR’s premier series in the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 will be the mid-engine Corvette Stingray coupe. A Silverado 1500 RST will be leading the field for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ NextEra Energy 250, with a Camaro SS 1LE pacing the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ ‘Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner 300’.
COMING TO DEFEND THE TITLE
With five NASCAR Championships up for grabs heading into the 2020 Season Championship at Phoenix Raceway, Chevrolet closed the season with four titles: 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Driver Championship, 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Manufacturer Championship, 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Manufacturer Championship, and the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championship.
After piloting his No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado to victory lane in the season finale at Phoenix Racing, Sheldon Creed captured his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title, Chevrolet’s 14th Driver’s Championship in the series. In addition, with 10 Chevy Silverado trips to victory lane among five Team Chevy drivers during the 23-race season, the Bowtie Brand earned its 10th Manufacturer Championship.
The 2020 season brought Chevrolet its 22nd Bill France Performance Cup in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the most of any other manufacturer. Four Team Chevy drivers were able to put a mark in the ‘win’ category, giving the Bowtie Brand 10 wins throughout the series’ 33-race season.
It was a year of records for Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott when his trip to victory lane at Phoenix Raceway named him the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, his first title in NASCAR’s premier racing series. Elliott captured the checkered flag five times during the 2020 season, the most in one season of his career. After adding his name to the Championship history book alongside his NASCAR Hall of Fame father, Bill Elliott, they became just the third father-son combo to win a championship in NASCAR’s premier series, joining the Petty family, Lee and Richard, and the Jarrett family, Ned and Dale. Elliott’s title delivered Chevrolet its 32nd NASCAR Cup Series Drivers Championship, a number surpassing any other manufacturer.
NEW TO THE LINEUP
The 2021 season will bring new faces to the Team Chevy lineup for the NASCAR Cup Series:
· Making their NASCAR Cup Series debut at the 2021 Daytona 500 is Trackhouse Racing. Co-owned by Justin Marks and Grammy Award-winning global superstar Pitbull, the No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will join the lineup, piloted by 29-year-old Daniel Suarez. Coming into his fifth season in NASCAR’s premier series, Suarez has eight top-five and 32 top-10 finishes.
· Erik Jones will pilot the iconic No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Richard Petty Motorsports. Entering into his fourth full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Jones has scored two wins, 33 top-five finishes, and 62 top-10 finishes in 147 career starts in the series.
· Corey LaJoie will drive the Spire Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2021, his third season in NASCAR’s premier series. Fielding two cars this season, the team’s No.77 will find a variety of drivers behind the wheel, with former Daytona 500 winner, Jamie McMurray, to make a one-time appearance at the 2021 Daytona 500 to kick off the car’s season.
· Returning to the NASCAR Cup Series, Kyle Larson will pilot the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for Hendrick Motorsports, the first time the organization will field the team’s flagship number since 2017. In 223 NASCAR Cup Series starts, Larson has captured six wins, 56 top-fives and 101 top-10’s, all in a Chevrolet. In his NASCAR career, he’s scored 20 points-paying wins among all of NASCAR’s national series.
· Victories by current Chevrolet drivers at Daytona International Speedway:
Kurt Busch, No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Camaro ZL1 1LE, has one win (February 2017)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Camaro ZL1 1LE, has one win (July 2017)
Austin Dillon, No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Camaro ZL1 1LE, has one win (February 2018)
William Byron, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro ZL1 1lE, has one win (August 2020)
· Chevrolet has made the trip to Daytona 500 victory lane 24 times, more than all other manufacturers. In addition, the Bowtie Brand has won 92 times at the 2.5-mile superspeedway across all three NASCAR National Series, making Chevrolet the winningest manufacturer at Daytona International Speedway in NASCAR history.
· Of the 147 appearances made by NASCAR’s premier series at the “World Center of Racing”, Chevrolet has recorded 50 poles, 218 top-five’s, 437 top-10’s, and led 8,004 laps.
· A Bowtie Brand machine is no stranger to starting from the pole in the ‘Great American Race’. Chevrolet leads all manufacturers in Daytona 500 poles with 28, including a string of eight consecutive years; a record-long streak of topping any manufacturer at Daytona International Speedway. Accompanying the pole winner, Chevrolet has swept the Daytona 500 front row 18 times, including eight of the past 10 years.
· In 2019, Chevrolet team, Hendrick Motorsports, made Daytona 500 history when teammates William Byron, Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott swept the top four qualifying positions for the first time.
· Coming off of his first-career NASCAR Cup Series Championship title, Elliott could potentially become just the fifth champion in NASCAR history to claim the Harley J. Early trophy the following season. He would join the company of NASCAR Cup Series Champions Dale Jarrett (2000), Jeff Gordon (1999), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Richard Petty (1973).
FOX will telecast the 200-lap, 500-mile race live at 2:30 p.m. EST Sunday, February 14. Live coverage can also be found on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING CAMARO ZL1 1LE
YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY. HOW DO YOU NEGOTIATE STAYING OUT OF THE WRECKS THROUGHOUT THE RACE SO THAT YOU CAN BE IN CONTENTION AT THE END?
"It's tough. It's a game of putting yourself in position. I call it high-speed chess because you know at some point in time, you're going to be vulnerable. You hope that someone doesn't take advantage of that too much and cause a big wreck. It's one of those things where you are constantly moving and trying to guess the flow of the pack. I think the best place to be is in the front most of the time, but it's impossible now with the way we race to keep yourself up there for the entire race. You see guys do it for long periods of time. Denny Hamlin has been pretty amazing at putting himself in the right position as of late. I'm going to do my best this time around to put ourselves in position for another shot at the Daytona 500."
DO YOU FEEL THE “BIG ONE” COMING OR DOES IT HAPPEN SO FAST THAT YOU’RE JUST IN IT?
"Sometimes you're in it, and there is nothing you can do about it because you know time is running out and you're in it either way. It's an odd feeling knowing your putting yourself out there and something is about to happen. It's an issue of timing. You're hoping you just get through it. I've been fortunate to sneak through some of them, or be in front of some of them. You usually know when the intensity is rising and the pack is starting to get a little bit out of control. You try to do your best to give yourself an out or be in front of it."
YOU WERE ABLE TO GET SOME EXPERIENCE ON THE DAYTONA ROAD COURSE BY COMPETING IN THE ROLEX 24 THIS YEAR. DID ANYTHING JUMP OUT AT YOU ABOUT THE TRACK THAT YOU CAN USE FOR THE BUSCH CLASH THIS YEAR?
"It's not so much of a technical track like some of the tracks that we go to that are road courses. It's pretty self-explanatory. I like the fact that the tires seem to wear quite a bit at the track. I haven't gotten to run the new chicane coming off Turn Four, so I need to make sure I try to stop when I get over there this time around from the Rolex to this race. I enjoyed it and I think the experience I got in the 24 was great. We'll see how it all plays out in the end."
COREY LAJOIE, NO. 7 SPIRE MOTORSPORTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE
“It’s awesome to be joining Team Chevy this season with Spire Motorsports. My dad had a ton of success behind the wheel of a Chevrolet, so I hope to continue that success, starting at Daytona.”
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING CAMARO ZL1 1LE
THIS WILL BE YOUR DEBUT START IN THE CLASH AT DAYTONA. HOW ARE YOU AND THE I AM SECOND TEAM APPROACHING THE RACE?
“I’m looking forward to being part of the Clash at DAYTONA this year. It has been fun in the past watching the drivers and teams go out there every year and kick off the season with an exhibition race, but I’m excited to be part of the action this year. With NASCAR making the change to have the Clash on the road course, it also helps serve as a bit of a test session for our Daytona Road Course race later this month. Having no practice that weekend makes the Clash race this week even more valuable as far as on-track time.”
YOU’RE KICKING OFF YOUR SOPHOMORE YEAR IN THE CUP SERIES THIS WEEKEND WITH YOUR THIRD DAYTONA 500. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
“It’s hard to predict what will happen in the DAYTONA 500 just because of the nature of that race, but I’m excited to have another shot at it. I feel like I learn more during each superspeedway race I have in the Cup Series. My team and I worked really hard during the off-season to identify where we struggled last year and how we were going to be better in 2021. Sunday will be the first major test for us, but I’m confident in my No. 8 Lenovo team and our plan for the year.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE
“I’m looking forward to getting the season started. It’s the start of a very long road in our season. This is always very exciting week. I feel like every time I get to Daytona, I’m excited and ready to get started. It’s a great week for our sport and a big event, but also the first days of a very long season. I think anyone that travels this deal knows that. So, it’s a long road ahead.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1 1LE
BYRON ON BEING EAGER FOR THE START OF THE 2021 SEASON:
“I’m excited to get back to Daytona and get the season started. I’ve put in a lot of work in during the offseason preparing for this year, and I know Rudy (Fugle) and the team guys have done the same. We want to be as prepared as we possibly can be to get the season started off on the right foot. Good finishes in the first few races of the year can really change the strategy and dynamic compared to a few bad ones that put you in a hole. As a team, we’re all on the same page and all have the same goals, and that is to improve off last year, get as many wins as we can and hopefully be in contention for a championship at the end of it. I think we’re fully capable of that.”
BYRON ON WORKING WITH FUGLE AGAIN:
“It’ll be great to work with Rudy again. We had a lot of success together in the truck series. Since then, I have gained a lot of on-track and off-track knowledge. Rudy’s worked hard to get adjusted this offseason, and I think all of our efforts will benefit us. We’ve always had a good working relationship and level of communication with each other. I feel like we have basically picked up where we left off and that familiarity will hopefully translate to our on-track performance.”
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1 1LE
FUGLE ON THE OFFSEASON PREP WITH HIS NEW TEAM:
“While I’m new to Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 team, it really has been a pretty smooth transition getting ready for the season. I’ve done what I can to learn the processes and get up to speed, and now we’re working on improving as one unit. William has definitely put in extra time this offseason as well to take us to that next level. Every week is going to be a building block to put us in the position we want to be in. I fully believe that this team is capable of winning races early on and that’s going to be our goal.”
FUGLE ON THE OPPORTUNITIES DAYTONA OFFERS:
“I think Daytona provides a good opportunity to get the season started off on the right foot. We have so much track time between the Clash, the Duels and practice sessions, that you really should have your car and strategy dialed in when you get to the start of the DAYTONA 500. If you get through that opening week of racing with good results, that only strengthens your team and gives you an extra boost of confidence heading into the few weeks.”
RYAN PREECE, NO. 37 COTTONELLE CAMARO ZL1 1LE
“I expect to be fast, wide-open and holding the bottom with my No. 37 Cottonelle Camaro. It’s really going to come down to preparation and not having a strong headwind or anything like that when I go out to qualify. I’m not stressed about it at all. If everything works out the way I think it’s laid out, we should qualify on speed. So, I feel pretty confident with it. Working with Trent (Owens, crew chief) and the team, I feel confident that we should have plenty of speed and we can get in on time, which will make the Duels that much less difficult. No matter what plan you come up with when it comes to Daytona, you can be as prepared as possible, but you never know what’s going to happen. If we qualify in on time, everything becomes easier throughout the weekend. If we don’t then it will come down to executing and making sure everything goes right to get ourselves in. You always show up every single week to the track, do your best and get the most out of your equipment. Our approach for Daytona is the same as it has been every year with our Cottonelle Camaro, except we’ll be a little more aggressive than we have been in years past when it comes to stages. We’ve typically tried to lay back and make sure we are there at the end. I think stage points are so important now that you have to race every single lap.”
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS CAMARO ZL1 1LE
“That’s the ultimate goal at the end of it all – to hopefully win a race this year and get us in the Playoffs. Richard Petty Motorsports has been doing a lot over the last few years to really strengthen their organization and I think it’s showing in performance, too. The trend is going in the right direction and we want to keep it going that way this year; keep going to a better points finish and continue to get more and more competitive on track.”
“I look at some of the tracks that we go to this year and I think there’s opportunities to win. It’s tough to win in the NASCAR Cup Series – we all know that; I know that from experience. But I think we have a lot of opportunities this year where we can do it.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 KROGER/NOS ENERGY DRINK CAMARO ZL1 1LE
“I can’t express enough how awesome it would be for me personally to win the Daytona 500 for our Kroger partners and everybody on our race team. That’s our number one goal going into Daytona is to win this thing with our No. 47 Kroger/NOS Camaro and our season-long goal is finishing races strong and minimizing mistakes. We’re planning to park our No. 47 Kroger Camaro in Victory Lane and leave our car in the Daytona Hall of Fame down there. That’s what we want to do. It would be a huge accomplishment for us and it would really be a game-changer for everybody on our race team and organization. Being fast is key, but specifically at Daytona in our Kroger/NOS Camaro. It’s about having a car that handles better. It needs to drive good so you can be more aggressive with your strategy. It’s going to be important to put myself in better situations throughout the race to battle for that checkered flag. We’ve got to do everything right to limit mistakes and put ourselves in a winning position at the end. I feel really good about our Kroger/NOS Camaro. The boys have been working really hard back at the shop. And, I’m excited for Pole night on Wednesday that’s sponsored by Kroger and keep that trophy in the organization following last year’s pole win.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE
BOWMAN ON STARTING FIRST RACE WITH ALLY:
“Hendrick Motorsports has seen a ton of success at superspeedways in the past and that is a great feeling going into the first race of the year with Ally. Daytona is a place where anything can happen at any moment and you must try to stay out of trouble. This No. 48 team worked hard over the offseason to build off the momentum that we ended with last season. Every year, we bring a fast Chevrolet to Daytona and I am excited to finally be able to get on track with Ally on board. It feels like it has been forever since we announced the move to the 48 with Ally’s support, so we are pumped to finally be able to get on track.”
BOWMAN ON VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF SPEEDWEEKS:
“Daytona Speedweeks has so many different elements with the CLASH, qualifying, Duels and the 500. It is going to be exciting and interesting to run the CLASH under the lights on the DAYTONA road course. Last year we battled some issues on the road course here and there, but we fought hard and finished inside the top 15. Our summer run on the 2.5-mile tri-oval ended with a top-10 result and provides some good momentum going into the Duels and the DAYTONA 500. We have qualified well for Daytona in the past and that will determine the strategy for the Duel event.”
GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE
IVES ON 2021 OUTLOOK:
“The excitement of heading to Daytona has always been prevalent throughout each offseason. The design of the new paint schemes, uniforms, equipment redone, and improvements to the team as a whole bring anxiousness to get to the track. Add in the fact that we will be working with Ally and bearing the 48 has us wanting to continue the prestigious history. Our 2020 playoff run is where our team needs to continue to perform and with the consistency in the team we have, no doubt we can pick up where we left off.”
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