Still the big one: Drivers hold Daytona 500 in high esteem

60th running of the Great American Race set for Sunday


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Sunday's Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year for NASCAR. It's also the first. Because they have the entire season left to make up ground, drivers have a chance to really go for it on Sunday in the Great American Race.

"I feel like this is its own race," said 2017 cup champion Martin Truex Jr. "I feel like I separate this from the rest of the season and just come here to win and see what we can do."

Clint Bowyer has never won the Daytona 500. His best finish is fourth, achieved in back-to-back years, 2009 and 2010.

"Here, it's not a point thing; here it's about winning the race and being a Daytona 500 champion," said Bowyer. "That's what it's all about."

Elliott Sadler may be the driver who will race like he has nothing to lose. Last year was the first time in five years that he raced in the Daytona 500. 

"It's the action track," Sadler, the 2002 runner-up said. "If you want action on a racetrack, look no further than the Daytona 500. It's the first race of the year. Everybody has that anxiety, everybody is hyped up. Everybody wants to win. Oh, and by the way, it's the biggest race you can possibly win in NASCAR, period."

2007 winner Kevin Harvick admitted that he has to talk himself down when he comes to Daytona because he gets so excited as the race approaches.

Also of note, there are 40 drivers here. Nobody will have to race their way into the field during Thursday’s qualify. Every team who is here will start Sunday's Daytona 500.

About the Author: