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NASCAR National Series News & Notes — Daytona

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race (Non-Points): Can-Am Duel At Daytona
The Place: Daytona International Speedway
The Date: Thursday, Feb. 15
The Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 5:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: Two races, each 150 miles (60 laps)

Next Race (Points): Daytona 500
The Place: Daytona International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Feb. 18
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 500 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: PowerShares QQQ 300
The Place: Daytona International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, Feb. 17
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (120 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on lap 120)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: NextEra Energy Resources 250
The Place: Daytona International Speedway
The Date: Friday, Feb. 16
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250 miles (100 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 20),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on lap 100)


Monster Performer: Kurt Busch Eyes Daytona 500 Repeat

Kurt Busch led only the final lap in last season’s Daytona 500, putting his No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford in Victory Lane in Monster Energy’s first race as entitlement sponsor.

He’ll go for an encore in Sunday’s 60th running of The Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Only three drivers have won back-to-back DAYTONA 500s: Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Martin (1994-95).

Before his break-through win, Busch finished runner-up in the Daytona 500 three times.

He is one of 15 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions to win a Daytona 500.

Encore Presentation? Truex Hopes To Top Dream Season With 500 Victory

Oh so close.

That was the storyline that followed Martin Truex Jr. throughout the 2016 season. After finishing runner-up to Denny Hamlin in the closest Daytona 500 in history (the margin of victory was .01 seconds), Truex was forced to relive that thrilling moment repeatedly.

Finishing second wasn’t Truex’s calling card last season, however. He won seemingly everything – a season-high eight races, the regular season championship and, of course, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Does that foretell a redemption song for the New Jersey native? Maybe.

To do so, Truex will have to up his restrictor plate game considerably. Over his last seven restrictor-plate starts, Truex has an average finish of just 26.7.

On the bright side, he has finished in the top 10 in two of the last three Daytona 500s.

Turning Back The Clock: Past Winners Try To Recapture Daytona Magic

Eight past Daytona 500 winners are in this year’s field: Kurt Busch (2017), Denny Hamlin (2016), Joey Logano (2015), Jimmie Johnson (2013, 2006), Trevor Bayne (2011), Jamie McMurray (2010), Ryan Newman (2008) and Kevin Harvick (2007).

Johnson is the only active driver with multiple Daytona 500 wins.

Drivers in the field who have won at Daytona in the summer, but not the 500, include: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017), Brad Keselowski (2016), Aric Almirola (2014), David Ragan (2011) and Kyle Busch (2008).

Best Two-for-One Deal in Town

A quick look at the stats tells you all you need to know about the importance of Thursday night’s two Can-Am Duel at Daytona races, which will set the starting lineup for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Five of the last six Daytona 500s were won from a starting position in the top 10, including last year’s race, when Kurt Busch started eighth.

In all, 43 of the 59 editions of the Daytona 500 have been won by a driver who started in the top 10.

Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin know their starting positions – 1 and 2. The rest of the field will be set on Thursday night. The finishing order of the first Duel will determine the inside row for the Daytona 500, with the finishing order of the second Duel determining the outside row.

And last year, with the introduction of the stage format, points are now awarded in each Duel. The top 10 finishers in each Duel were awarded points, with 10 points to the winner, 9 to second, and so on.

Chasing 8: Johnson Readies To Surpass Petty, Earnhardt With Eighth Championship

Dale Earnhardt. Richard Petty. Jimmie Johnson.

They’re tied atop the NASCAR record book with seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championships.

Entering his 17th full-time season, Johnson can overtake the two NASCAR Hall of Famers with an eighth title.

Although he finished a disappointing (by his standards) 10th in last year’s standings, Johnson is still an elite performer. The 42-year-old Californian has won at least three races in each of the last six seasons and he’s never completed a campaign without multiple wins.

For his career, Johnson boasts 83 wins, 222 top fives and 341 top 10s. A checkered flag at Daytona would tie him with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth all-time with 84 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins.

Rookie Sensation Byron Could Take Monster Energy Series By Storm
William Byron has shown no signs of having a learning curve hold him back in his two NASCAR national series seasons.

Byron won a rookie-record seven races in 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series action. He topped his Truck Series performance in 2017 by winning four times and capturing the championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Yes, he earned Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in both series.

The 20-year-old will make his much-anticipated Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut driving the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, where he won the summer Xfinity Series race last year.

Byron takes over the car number of 24 from Chase Elliott, who will now drive the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet this season. Elliott’s predecessor in the No. 24 – four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon – won three Daytona 500s.

Byron can join Erik Jones as the only driver to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in all three series.

Air Apparent: Brad Keselowski the New Restrictor Plate King

It has often been said that Dale Earnhardt could ‘see the air,’ giving him a distinct advantage in the draft – a necessary tool whenever the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series hits either Daytona or Talladega.

Across the different NASCAR eras, the names of those who have worn the crown as ‘King of Plate Racing’ has been shared by Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Now, it rests on the head of Brad Keselowski, who again triumphed in a plate race, last Sunday in the preseason Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona.

Keselowski has six plate wins in points races overall, five of which were at Talladega (including his first career win in 2009). His lone win at Daytona came in the July race of 2016.

By Keselowski’s standards, his Daytona 500 record is subpar, as he’s finished 20th or worse in the last three 500s. His best finish was third in 2014.

If he were to win on Sunday, he’d join a short list of drivers who pulled off the Clash-500 sweep: Bobby Allison (1982), Bill Elliott (1987), Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000), Jeff Gordon (1997) and Denny Hamlin (2016).

Alex Bowman shuns early season pressure, snags Daytona 500 Pole

Two years ago, Alex Bowman was out of a NASCAR ride and unsure of his future in the sport. Now, Bowman is a Daytona 500 pole winner. Oh, how quickly things change.

Bowman secured his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole on Sunday after guiding his No. 88 Chevrolet to a 195.644 mph lap around the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. The run ensured Bowman the first starting position in Thursday’s Can-Am Duel 1 as well as next Sunday’s 60th annual Daytona 500.

Bowman enters the 2018 season under a great deal of scrutiny, as the 24-year-old Tucson, Arizona, native has inherited the famous Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 ride popularized by recently retired fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

But if Sunday is any indication, Bowman appears to be handling the pressure with ease.

One More Time With Feeling

Danica Patrick will compete in what is expected to be her final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday in the Daytona 500.

She picked a good one for her swan song.

Patrick’s Daytona 500 career is filled with history-making superlatives, as she is the first female to win a pole, lead laps and score a top-10 finish in The Great American Race. All of those came in the 2013 edition.

This time around, she’ll pilot the No. 7 car, which brings her career full circle. Patrick also drove the No. 7 at the start of her career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2010.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Among Favorites Entering Daytona 500

With Dale Earnhardt Jr. now sitting on the sidelines, the title of “NASCAR’s Superspeedway King” is officially up for the taking. We mentioned Brad Keselowski earlier, but could Ricky Stenhouse Jr. be the man to fill that void?

After a 2017 season that saw Stenhouse collect two wins and one pole at NASCAR’s two superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega), Stenhouse enters the 2018 Daytona 500 as one of the favorites to win the race. Should he win on Sunday, Stenhouse would be the first driver since Earnhardt Jr. in 2002 to win at least three out of his last four superspeedway starts.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Bubba Wallace To Star In New Facebook Watch Docu-Series: As Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. prepares to make history in the 2018 DAYTONA 500, fans can follow his inspirational journey to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in “Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace,” a new docu-series premiering Feb. 15 on Facebook Watch.

The eight-part series was produced by NASCAR Productions and will chronicle Wallace’s road to Daytona International Speedway – from his earliest racing days to his debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as the new full-time driver of the No. 43 Click n’ Close Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Richard Petty Motorsports.

Two episodes will air per day from Thursday through Saturday in the lead-up to the 60th running of the DAYTONA 500, while the series’ final two episodes will be available next week.

Facebook Watch is a video platform created to bring episodic content, community and conversation together on Facebook. The platform is home to a wide variety of sports shows, including reality, documentary and live sports.

FOX & NASCAR Productions Premiere Daytona 500 Race Classic Specials: To commemorate the historic 60th running of the Great American Race, FOX Sports and NASCAR Productions will debut two Race Classics during Daytona Speedweeks. On Thursday, Feb. 15 at 10 p.m. ET, FS1 premieres “NASCAR Race Classic: 1988 Daytona 500” featuring Bobby and Davey Allison’s one-two finish. Immediately following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, Feb. 16, FS1 debuts “NASCAR Race Classic: The 1998 Daytona 500” highlighting Dale Earnhardt’s elusive win. Both specials are hosted by Jeff Gordon and complemented by an encore presentation of the third “Beyond the Wheel” short film series at 6 p.m. ET on Friday.


“The Series Where Names Are Made” Reaches Milestone 100th Race With Xfinity As Entitlement Partner

Xfinity and its parent company Comcast joined the NASCAR fold at the beginning of the 2015 season, and since then the company has held the distinction of primary sponsor for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This weekend at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR and Xfinity have reached a milestone in their partnership as it will be the 100th event as the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Over the last three seasons a lot has happened with Xfinity. There have been three different series champions (2015 Chris Buescher, 2016 Daniel Suárez and 2017 William Byron) from three different organizations (2015 Roush Fenway Racing, 2016 Joe Gibbs Racing, 2017 JR Motorsports) driving three different manufacturers (2015 Ford, 2016 Toyota and 2017 Chevrolet) during that time span. (Also of note, all three champions will be racing full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018.)

The series saw its first foreign-born champion when Suárez took the title in 2016. Then the series saw its second Sunoco Rookie of the Year take home a title this past season when Byron became just the second rookie in series history to win a championship joining Chase Elliott (2014).

The great action during the last 99 NASCAR Xfinity Series races did not stop at just the diversity of the championships. Last season, the series tied its own record (1988 season) for the most different winners in a single season with 18 different drivers pulling into Victory Lane in 2017. In total, over the last 99 races there have been 29 different winners in the NASCAR Xfinity Series; 19 with multiple wins. Plus, there have also been 29 different pole winners since Xfinity has joined the series.

The season kicks off this week on FS1, below is a breakdown of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Daytona television programming:
Friday, Feb 16 – Practice – FS1 (12 p.m. ET)
Friday, Feb 16 – Final Practice – FS1 (2 p.m. ET)
Saturday, Feb 17 – Qualifying – FS1 (9:30 a.m. ET)
Saturday, Feb 17 – Race – FS1 (2 p.m. ET)

Nine Drivers To Vie For The Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of The Year Honors in 2018

Much like the first day of school, this weekend at Daytona International Speedway will have plenty of new faces to learn in the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage as nine drivers will be competing for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2017. The nine-driver class is the largest group of competitors entered in the program since 2014, when there were 10 drivers entered. (2017 – 6 drivers, 2016 – 7 drivers, 2015 – 7 drivers).

This season’s class will include (alphabetical order): Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Josh Bilicki (No. 45 J.P. Motorsports Toyota), Spencer Boyd (No. 76 SS Green Light Racing Chevrolet), Austin Cindric (No. 22 Team Penske Ford/No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford), Kaz Grala (No. 24 JGL Racing Ford), Alex Labbe (No. 36 DGM Racing Chevrolet), Matt Mills (No. 15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet), Vinnie Miller (No. 01 JD Motorsports Chevrolet), Tyler Reddick (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet).

Early favorites to take rookie of the year honors this season are Christopher Bell from Joe Gibbs Racing and Tyler Reddick from JR Motorsports. Both are with the organizations that won the last two driver championships, and both posted wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last season (Reddick at Kentucky and Bell at Kanas).

Tyler Reddick’s former teammate William Byron took home the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year trophy driving the No. 9 car Reddick will be piloting this season. Eight of the nine rookie candidates are entered this weekend at Daytona, but only Reddick has made series starts at the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway. Reddick has made two series starts at Daytona, posting a best finish of 20th last season.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed Is Looking For Another Season-Opening Win At Daytona

Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed has won the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway in two of the last three seasons (2015, 2017) and this weekend he looks to make it three out of the last four. Reed now returns to Daytona this season looking to become the fifth driver in series history to win back-to-back season opening races joining Tony Stewart (four straight 2008-2011), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (three straight 2002-2004) and NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt (five straight 1990-1994, series-most) and Darrell Waltrip (1983, ’84).

Last season’s Daytona victory was Reed’s lone win, but it elevated him to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs where he finished the season eighth in the final standings. Roush Fenway Racing has won three of the last seven NASCAR Xfinity Series titles (Chris Buescher 2015, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2011, 2012) and Reed wants to add his name to the list.

Reed has made eight series starts at Daytona, posting two wins, three top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 11.2 – the best among series championship contenders.

JR Motorsports Aiming To Defend NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship

Defending NASCAR Xfinity Series championship organization JR Motorsports returns this season with a full contingent of drivers to try to make it two titles in a row, and three in the last five seasons. JR Motorsports drivers finished 1-2-3 in the final standings last season – the first time an organization has taken all three top spots.

Championship-winning driver William Byron has moved up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to drive for Hendrick Motorsports this season. In his place will be Tyler Reddick, driving the No. 9 Chevrolet with championship winning crew chief David Elenz. Joining Reddick this season will be the rest of the cast of characters from last year – Elliott Sadler (No. 1 car), Justin Allgaier (No. 7) and Michael Annett (No. 5).

Elliott Sadler will be back in the No. 1 Chevrolet with crew chief Kevin Meendering. The duo finished the 2017 season second in the points. Expect Sadler to be hungry for another shot at the title in 2018. Sadler has made 17 starts at Daytona, posting six top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 14.5.

Justin Allgaier returns to the No. 7 again this season with crew chief Jason Burdett. Allgaier finished third last season after posting two wins, 10 top fives and 17 top 10s. Allgaier has made 14 series starts at Daytona, posting three top fives and six top 10s. He finished second in the July race in 2016.

Michael Annett will be back in the No. 5 again this season with crew chief Jason Stockert. Annett finished last season ninth in the final standings after posting seven top 10s. Annett has made 12 series starts at Daytona, posting two top 10s.

Daytona International Speedway: Quick Stats
• Daytona International Speedway has hosted 52 NASCAR Xfinity Series races.
• 27 different drivers have won at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, led by Dale Earnhardt and Tony Stewart with seven wins each. Joe Nemechek and Ryan Reed lead all drivers entered this weekend in wins with two each.
• Nine of the 27 series Daytona winners have multiple wins – Ryan Reed and Joe Nemechek are the only active drivers with multiple wins.
• Former winners’ active this weekend (six): Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Joe Nemechek and Ryan Reed
• Race Record – Geoff Bodine (157.137 mph, 2/16/1985)
• 40 different drivers have won the pole, led by Joe Nemechek with four.
• Qualifying Record – Tommy Houston (194.389 mph, 2/14/1987)
• Former pole winners’ active this weekend (seven): Joe Nemechek (5), J.J. Yeley (2), Austin Dillon (2), Aric Almirola, Elliott Sadler, Brandon Jones and Daniel Suárez each have one.
• All-time Lap Leader – Dale Earnhardt Jr., 560 Laps Led
• Single Race Laps Led Record – Joe Nemechek, 105 Laps Led (2/14/1998)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Etc.:

Monster Energy Series Moonlighters: This weekend the NASCAR Xfinity Series will be joined by six Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers at Daytona International Speedway – Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suárez. Four of the six drivers are former series Daytona winners: Almirola (July 2016), Dillon (July 2015), Elliott (Feb. 2016) and Logano (July 2011).


Sauter Looking For Hat Trick In Season Opener

2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter is the lone entrant in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 who has visited Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway.

And he’s done it twice (2013, 2016).

The veteran driver of the No. 21 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet for GMS Racing is looking to capture his third season-opening victory when the series gets started Friday night under the lights (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sauter has posted three top-five and four top-10 finishes in nine starts at the World Center of Racing. Only Matt Crafton (seven) and Travis Kvapil (five) have more top-10 finishes at Daytona among active drivers entered in the race.

All In The Family

Todd Gilliland, who will eventually pilot the No. 4 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports starting at Martinsville, started off Speedweeks with a thrilling win over fellow NASCAR Next driver Harrison Burton in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series at New Smyrna Speedway on Sunday night.

But he’ll have to sit on the sidelines for the NextEra Energy 250 because he’s still just 17 years old…and the minimum age for drivers at Daytona is 18.

KBM didn’t have to look far to find a substitute driver for this weekend, however. Todd’s father David, who has led the field to green in the Daytona 500 (2007), is stepping up to the plate.

David understands how meaningful it is to fill in for Todd, “I’m really excited to be running Daytona and sharing the truck with my son, Todd, which is really special.”

In addition to winning the pole for the 2007 Daytona 500, David also paced the field for the July race in 2014. He tallied 332 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts – and will make it 333 this Sunday, as he’s driving the No. 92 Ford for RBR Enterprises in the Daytona 500.

Step By Step

There are four relatively new kids on the block chasing the Sunoco Rookie of the Year prize for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season.

Todd Gilliland (just 17-years old and unable to race until Martinsville due to age restrictions), Myatt Snider (No. 13 ThorSport Racing Ford), Dalton Sargeant (No. 25 GMS Racing Chevrolet) and Justin Fontaine (No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet) have all tossed their hats into the ring for the title bout.

Gilliland will drive a Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, ensuring that all three manufacturers are represented in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle.

Todd Gilliland: Made six starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, making his debut at Dover. He tallied two top-five and three top-10 finishes in his limited schedule. He also won 10 NASCAR K&N Pro Series races last year, winning the title in the West and finishing second in the East.

Myatt Snider: Made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Phoenix in 2016, his lone series race that season. He went on to compete in eight races last year with one top five and three top 10s.

Dalton Sargeant: Has made six starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (four in 2015, two in 2017). He tallied two top-10s in his 2015 campaign. He also ran a complete NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season in 2015, posting six top-five and nine top-10 finishes.

Justin Fontaine: Has the fewest starts in the series of the group, competing in one race in 2016 and two last year. He also ran four K&N Pro Series East races in 2016.

ThorSport Racing Gets Makeover For 2018

More than two decades of racing, split between Chevrolet and Toyota emblems on the nose of their trucks, yields to the “Blue Oval” this season as ThorSport Racing transitions to Ford for 2018.

ThorSport made the announcement in late January that it would change manufacturers and followed that up in February by filling out their lineup. The team will compete with four drivers this season, led by two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton. Ben Rhodes, Grant Enfinger and Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender Myatt Snider round out the starting lineup.

Of the change, Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports, said, “ThorSport is a proven championship-level team in the series, and we look forward to providing them the aero and simulation technical support that will ensure they remain at the top level of the Truck Series.”

ThorSport is hoping that the change in manufacturer will get them an elusive win at Daytona. In 32 starts by the team’s trucks, they have yet to visit Victory Lane while posting two top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. They have led just 47 laps on the high banks in Florida.

Crafton holds seven of those top-10 finishes, including a team-best of fifth in the 2010 race. His only active teammate to also post a top 10 at Daytona for the team is Ben Rhodes in 2016.

Ringing In A New Championship Hope

Christopher Bell, the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, helped powerhouse team Kyle Busch Motorsports to their sixth owners championship overall – and fifth in a row.

But he’s taking his talents elsewhere, as he makes the jump to the NASCAR Xfinity Series and a ride with Joe Gibbs Racing. Don’t worry though, KBM is still deep in young talent and expects to contend for their third driver championship and seventh owner title.

Noah Gragson captured three pole awards in 2017 before driving into Victory Lane for his first NASCAR national series win at Martinsville in the fall. He put together four top-five and 13 top-10 finishes last season.

Gragson has made just one start at Daytona, finishing 26th in last year’s race after an early wreck.

He’ll be joined by NASCAR Next sensation Todd Gilliland, who will drive 19 races as he chases the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.

A third KBM Toyota Tundra will be split between Kyle Busch, Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones, Spencer Davis and Riley Herbst.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, etc.

No chance for a repeat: Just one driver has won back-to-back NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Daytona – Todd Bodine in 2008-09. Last year’s winner, Kaz Grala, has moved to the NASCAR XFINITY Series and will not attempt to defend his victory.