Daytona 500 win on every driver's wish list

Kurt Busch looking to become only 4th driver to repeat at Daytona 500

(Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. – Can you imagine if the Super Bowl was the first game of each NFL season? The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s Super Bowl and a win here is at the top of every driver’s wish list.

“The 500 is of course the crown jewel,” said Brad Keselowski, who won the 2018 Clash at Daytona. “It’s a race that celebrates the legacy and tradition of our sport, but also gets the sport kicked off for its season.”

There isn’t much of an off-season in NASCAR. In fact it’s one of the shortest in all of sports. It was just 13 weeks ago that Martin Truex Jr hoisted the Cup Series championship trophy. But just like the other 39 drivers competing this Sunday he’s got his eyes on the Harley J. Earl trophy.

“It’s the biggest race of the year, said Truex Jr. “I wouldn’t say it’s as big as the championship, that’s the ultimate goal. To kick off the season at Daytona and to know what the race means to our sport. When you win this race they call you a Daytona 500 champion for the rest of your career.”

In 2017 Kurt Busch captured his first Daytona 500 win. Now the challenge for Busch is to end up in victory lane again. He would be only the fourth driver to win consecutive Daytona 500s and the first to pull off the repeat since Sterling Marlin in 1994 and 1995.

“Yeah it’s special coming back to Daytona as a winner,” said Busch. “Yet today feels like a day that I have to bridge away and focus on 2018 and make sure that the emotion of winning doesn’t detract from the emotions of focus. Because there are things that have to be done to execute as a team this time around.”