Wednesday, Feb. 15: Daytona 500 qualifying (single-lap qualifying to determine pole for the Daytona 500)
● Time/TV/Radio: 8 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Thursday, Feb. 16: Bluegreen Vacations Duel (twin 150-mile qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500)
● Time/TV/Radio: 7 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Sunday, Feb. 19: 65th annual Daytona 500 (first of 36 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series races in 2023)
● Time/TV/Radio: 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● Guess Who’s Back: For the first time since 2007, Interstate Batteries will return as a primary sponsor for the Daytona 500, sharing space with Monster Energy. Interstate Batteries’ primary sponsorship at the Daytona 500 started in 1992 with the inception of Joe Gibbs Racing, its first of 16 primary sponsorships at The Great American Race from 1992 through 2007 with drivers Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, and J.J. Yeley.
● The Dale and Dale Show: With Interstate’s return to the Daytona 500, the 2023 edition of The Great American Race also happens to be the 30th anniversary of the “Dale and Dale Show.” In the 1993 Daytona 500, Interstate Batteries and JGR driver Jarrett beat the late Dale Earnhardt across the finish line with Jarrett’s father Ned in the CBS broadcast booth calling his son’s run to the checkered flag in one of the most memorable moments in Daytona 500 and NASCAR history. Not to mention the exciting call before a live audience on national television, the win was the first of many for JGR, and the first for sponsor Interstate Batteries just a year after their iconic partnership kicked off in 1992.
● Rookie Stripe: On top of Interstate Batteries returning to the Daytona 500 for the first time since 2007 and celebrating the 30th anniversary of its special Daytona 500 win, Ty Gibbs’ Daytona 500 debut will mark the beginning of his chase for 2023 Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors. He enters his first fulltime Cup Series season with a moderate amount of experience, however, having run 15 Cup Series races in 2022 and gaining valuable experience in the NextGen car while filling in for injured veteran Kurt Busch.
● To earn a spot in this year’s Daytona 500, drivers must first compete in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel – twin 150-mile qualifying races that set the 40-car field for the Daytona 500.
● Before drivers compete in the Duel, they race the clock in single-lap qualifying. The two fastest cars are locked into the field while the rest of the drivers are split into the Duel. Qualifiers in odd-numbered positions are in the first Duel and qualifiers in even-numbered positions are in the second Duel.
● At the age of 19 years, 9 months and 20 days, Gibbs made his first career NASCAR Cup Series start last July 24 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for 23XI Racing to become the 37th driver younger than 20 years old to make a Cup Series start. He started at the rear of the field, but completed all 160 laps on his way to an impressive 16th-place finish. Best of his 15 Cup Series starts last year was his 10th-place result at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
● Dazzling Debut: Gibbs was victorious in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in the February 2021 race on the Daytona road course. He led 14 of the 56 laps and became the youngest driver to win a Xfinity road-course race at 18 years, 4 months and 16 days. The native of Charlotte, North Carolina, also became the second-youngest winner in Xfinity Series history behind Joey Logano, who won in June 2008 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta at the age of 18 years, 21 days.
● Gibbs is the sixth driver to win in his Xfinity Series debut, joining Dale Earnhardt, Joe Ruttman, Ricky Rudd, Terry Labonte and Kurt Busch. Those five drivers had already driven in the NASCAR Cup Series before racing in the Xfinity Series.
● Speaking from Experience: While Gibbs is a Cup Series rookie, his crew chief Chris Gayle has plenty of experience, and even a pair of wins and some wins on his Daytona resume at Daytona. Gayle and driver Erik Jones won the July 2018 race at Daytona, as well as the 2020 Clash, both on the 2.5-mile superspeedway oval.
Ty Gibbs, Driver of the No. 54 Interstate Batteries/Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD
You’ve probably watched a lot of Daytona 500s on TV and in person. How special will it be to make your Daytona 500 driving debut?
“It’s definitely really cool, for sure, to be a part of it for the first time. I’ve been a part of it attending as a fan and being with my family. But to compete in it as a driver for the first time is really special. I feel really blessed to have the opportunity, and to have both Interstate Batteries and Monster Energy on board when I do it makes it all the more special. Interstate Batteries was along for JGR’s first win, which was at Daytona 30 years ago. We would love to be able to get them another one on Sunday and I’m excited about our team.”
You are coming off an Xfinity Series championship last year and a very successful season in that series. What are your thoughts heading into your rookie season in the Cup Series?
“I got to race in some Cup races last year and I’m really looking forward to getting back in the Cup car fulltime, and now get to race against the best stock car racers in the world every week. Hopefully all my hard work will pay off. I’ve been working really hard in the offseason, and my team has been working really hard, as well. We’ll see how that translates to the track starting in Daytona, but it’s a long year and we’ll keep working each week and try to get better and better as the season goes along.”
This won’t be your first time at Daytona since you have some experience there in an Xfinity and Cup car. Does that help you know more of what to expect when you get down there?
“The Daytona 500 is such a big race, and to be a part of it is really cool. It’s a very crazy race and you have to try to stay out of trouble. Throughout the race, you need to be able to make the right adjustments. It’s going to be very important to have the car we want when it does get down to the end and things get crazy. Just hope to be there at the end. You’ve got to be in it to win it.”
With your first Daytona 500, many fans will be talking about you being one of the guys to watch. Do you embrace that attention as you head into your rookie season?
“To be honest, it’s really cool of the fans and seeing all the support going into the season. I’m very grateful for that. At the end of the day, I just do what works for me and our team, and just work on what I can control. It’s really cool to see all the fans that support me day in and day out and we wouldn’t be anywhere without the fan support that we get.”
The Daytona 500 is sold out again this year. The campgrounds, stands, and everything will be packed with an electric atmosphere that the Daytona 500 brings. How much are you looking forward to that?
“I’ve been able to be there when my family has been running and also winning that race. The race is special to be a part of, but also victory lane there is even more special. It’s a dream come true to be able to be a part of it for the first time this year. Hopefully we can have a shot to win and bring home that cool trophy. It would be awesome to bring it back to Charlotte.”