Daytona 500 Preview

Story posted February 17, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Dylan Price

On Feb. 20, “The Great American Race” returns to full capacity, as a sold-out crowd will welcome in NASCAR’s new era.

NASCAR has introduced a multitude of changes heading into the 2022 season. The Gen-7 car features new technologies on the track as well as improved aerodynamics and downforce packages.

The visible alterations that have joined alongside the other noted changes have taken some aback with the numbers being moved down the side of the car to offer key advertising space.

Amidst all the changes, NASCAR moves forward as it always does, this time with fresh faces joining the fold, along with old faces in new places.

Decorated Xfinity Series driver Austin Cindric joins the Cup Series in the No. 2 Ford Mustang for Penske Racing as he replaces former Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski who bought a stake in what’s now called RFK racing and will be piloting the #6 Ford Mustang.

Kurt Busch, a former champion, joins 23XI racing alongside the returning Bubba Wallace, as Busch will pilot the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota for the team owned by current racer Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland also join Cindric in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Race, as Burton moves up from the Xfinity series to replace Matt DiBenedetto in the Wood Brothers No. 21 machine. Gilliland takes the steep jump from the Truck series to the Cup Series to pilot the No. 38 car for Front Row racing.

As for Daytona itself, with restrictor-plate racing, new cars and so many new stories, it’s hard to predict who could be out front when the checkered flag flies on Sunday.

Joey Logano, the driver of the Penske No. 22 Ford Mustang took the victory in the exhibition event, “The Clash at The Colosseum” held just two weeks ago. The 2015 winner of the 500 and 2018  cup series champion figures to be in the fold come late Sunday

Three-time winner and driver of the No. 11 FedEx machine, Denny Hamlin is always one to watch come Sunday, having hoisted the illustrious trophy as recently as in 2020. As are fellow Joe Gibbs racing drivers, and former champions Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.

Of course, the Hendrick core four, made up of defending champion Kyle Larson, 2020 Champion Chase Elliot, Alex Bowman and 2017 Xfinity Series champion William Byron all hold the previous top-five finishes in restrictor-plate contests, holding true to the Hendrick/Chevy reputation of being competitive in these races, and all four could be candidates to hoist the trophy come late Sunday afternoon.

Early indications lead towards No. 12 driver Ryan Blaney and defending Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell being in the mix come Sunday as both men topped the field in opening practice on Tuesday.

The driver of the No. 34 car, McDowell noted the added weight amidst the new cars and the return to one of the most famous tracks on the circuit noting, “The weight is different, the pressure is not.”

For all 42 drivers entering the mix trying to win one of the crown jewels of motorsports, the pressure is on with it being quite literally, anyone’s race to win, and come Sunday we will see who can rise to the top amidst all the new changes.

Dylan Price is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email