Saturday’s automobile racing roundup: The Daytona 500 is an antique race with a brand new appearance

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Among those seeking to win the Daytona 500 this 12 months are a Florida watermelon farmer, a quick-tune champion from New England, a television analyst, and a 22-yr-old whose career nearly changed into derailed by way of a brain tumor. The front row is the youngest in Daytona 500 records. It will be William Byron, a Liberty University student who had his expertise teeth eliminated inside the offseason, main the sector to inexperienced in Sunday’s show-off race to kick off the NASCAR season. The standard look of the state’s pinnacle racing collection has gone through a change the previous few seasons, and the proof is plastered at the hood of Corey LaJoie’s car. His entire facial-haired face ornaments his Ford Mustang, which effortlessly makes him the most recognizable driving force among the eight Daytona 500 beginners.

“He looks as if he’s going to devour you every lap,” stated Clint Bowyer. LaJoie’s paint scheme for his low-budget group is courtesy of his sponsor, Old Spice, which selected “The Great American Race” to promote its dry shampoo. Manscaped.Com bought the distance on Landon Cassill’s car; Bubba Wallace signed Aftershokz headphones for the race. After Casey Mears made the sphere – his first race in years – a skateboard rim maker, Rim Ryderz, joined his software. This Daytona 500 is unlike any recent memory and honestly highlights the dramatic lack of superstar strength from just four years in the past.

The 2015 race featured Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip, and Danica Patrick. All are now retired. Some of the massive cash sponsors in that race covered Lowe’s, Target, Dollar General, GoDaddy, and 5-Hour Energy. All have because pulled out of NASCAR. But alternate has created possibility – even 2d and 0.33 possibilities for a guy like Ross Chastain. The 8th-technology watermelon farmer impressed a sponsor and his work ethic and landed a career-converting experience with surprising investment. Ryan Preece bounced back and forth between NASCAR and New England short tracks earlier than finally gambling on his destiny. He settled for an element-time process with an aggressive group because he believed he ought to show his decent talent if given the right gadget. Now he’s additionally a Daytona 500 rookie. Same with Matt Tifft, who discovered he had a mind tumor four races into his 2016 season. Parker Kligerman, an element-time racer and complete-time tv character, is in his second Daytona 500. “I went off and did the TV issue,” stated Kligerman. “You’ve seen drivers do this earlier than, in which they do something to up their profile, then they get returned in an experience. It form of feels adore it’s ultimately all starting to paintings.”

THE BIGGESTToyota stars skipped the final practice, with former NASCAR champs Martin Truex Jr. And Kyle Busch some of the drivers sitting out. Michael McDowell published the quickest lap at 191.440 mph in the No. 34 Ford. Former Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray had a pinnacle speed of a hundred ninety.118 as he prepped for what’s anticipated to be the very last race of his NASCAR career. XFINITY: Michael Annett raced to his first NASCAR country-wide collection victory in the season opener at Daytona. Annett held off JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier at the very last lap. It’s the fourth Daytona victory in five years for the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. And his sister. Allgaier finished 2nd for a 1-2 Chevrolet finish. Brandon Jones was 0.33 in Toyota’s debut of the Supra within the Xfinity Series. SAM BASS, a NASCAR artist who helped design paint schemes and software covers that illuminated an entire recreation, died at age 57.