Daytona Beach, Fla. – The 59th running of the Daytona 500 will be the first of its kind. The 200-lap race has been divided into three stages – 60, 60 and 80 laps. The new format puts an emphasis on making every lap count. Championship points will be awarded to drivers after each stage finish. The change is something that several of the drivers have mixed opinions on.
“It’s very hard to plan a race here,” said Danica Patrick. “The new rules make that even more difficult. Plans change fast.”
Joey Logano on the other hand says that his plan of attack hasn’t changed one bit.
“I'm not looking at the points any different, I try to win every race every time.”
Winning is something that Jimmie Johnson has become very familiar with over the years. Last season he claimed his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Johnson also has a 2013 Daytona 500 win to go along with his long list of accomplishments. Sunday’s Great American Race will be the start of season No. 17 for Johnson.
“The older I get, the more I appreciate getting to race cars for a living,” said Johnson. “I’m very excited to get back in the car.”
Michael Waltrip participated in his first Daytona 500 in 1987 and is a two time winner (2001 and 2003) of the Great American race. Sunday will be his final time competing in NASCAR’s Super Bowl.
“This will be my 30th Daytona 500 and that felt like a good number to end on,” said Waltrip. “It’s just time.” Waltrip has already lined up his post racing career as a NASCAR analyst and he plans to use his final race at Daytona to help with what he feels will be a seamless transition.
“I feel like I’m going to learn some things on Sunday that will help me be a better TV guy.”