Daytona 500 win on every driver's wish list

Coastal Carolina University senior Brandon Brown will be racing at the Daytona International Speedway over the weekend.

Hamlin immediately downplayed the comments, claiming he was joking and reiterating the sport's strong drug testing policy.

Last year's victor Kurt Busch is joined by his teammates Kevin Harvick (2007 Daytona 500 winner), Clint Bowyer and newcomer Aric Almirola. My pick to win the Daytona 500 is Brad Keselowski.

With the stages being set for the Daytona 500 at Lap 60 and Lap 120 of the scheduled 200-lap event, things got dicey on Lap 59. The insane ending of the race not only landed Tyler Reddick in victory lane, but made it the closest race in NASCAR National Series history.

"The sport's not going away tomorrow", 2012 series champion victor Brad Keselowski said.

"I had a fan, actually he had no favorite driver, I told him, I said, 'I'll give you my hat if I'm your favorite driver.' I gave him the hat", Dillon said. Joy (seen at right above with analyst Darrell Waltrip in 2015) has been doing play-by-play for Fox since they started airing NASCAR with the 2001 Daytona 500, and he'll be joined by analysts Larry McReynolds and Waltrip, who have also been there since 2001. It wasn't its best podcast of the year, but including it in the awards week festivities showed how much NASCAR wants it to succeed. The 37-year-old will drive the No. 95 Chevy for Leavine Family Racing and will start 26th off the grid Sunday.

And then came the Xfinity Series race on Saturday in which NASCAR called a penalty on Elliott Sadler and Chase Elliott for locking bumpers down the backstretch. It's great for sponsors, all the different aspects that go into it. But Sunday, they'll have even more to contend with as new rules could change everything.

With three laps to go, defending champion Kurt Busch lost control of his auto on the outside line and collected a wide array of drivers, including Alex Bowman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Simply finishing the 500 in one piece would be a major accomplishment for a seven-time champion in rebuild mode. He won only three races - none after June - and finished 10th in the final points standings.

NASCAR continues to have two stages in a race before the final finish after deeming it a success a year ago, and with points towards and in the playoffs on the line, drivers race aggressively near the end of the events. This makes it the third consecutive year that the event has sold out. Fords were quick last season at the big tracks but struggled at the popular intermediate tracks.

The BK Racing team has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but will be permitted to compete in the Daytona 500 after NASCAR declined to strip its ownership charter.

Does a 22-year-old driver really know who he is? The red carpet has been rolled out for her, experienced Hendrick Motorsports support behind the scenes ensuring she'll have a solid 500 effort.

Charlize Theron is cheering for Danica Patrick in her final NASCAR race. RBR driver David Gilliland is a +12,500 longshot.

The shopping, dining, entertainment and lodging complex has seen a rolling series of openings since Cobb Theater and Bass Pro Shops opened early previous year. Do you want to have raw speed or do you want to handle well. Solid backup option: Brendan Gaughan, driving for a Beard Motorsports team that's only running the four plate races in 2018.

"I've come to realize what a huge race fan I am".

And, as if the crusty Earnhardt himself was talking, he added, "We're going to keep kicking butt the rest of the year". He'll pass teammate Keselowski on the last lap and emerge on the national stage as a victor of NASCAR's Super Bowl.

Vanessa Coleman