Manning set to pace Daytona 500

Liberty University sophomore William Byron will make his debut in NASCAR's Cup Series on Sunday at the 60th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr. dominated the 2017 regular season and then came out on top during the playoffs for his first Cup title.

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: POWESRSHARES QQQ 300 (120 laps, 300 miles 2.50-mile oval), Daytona International Speedway; Daytona Beach, Florida. Bowman, who takes over the No. 24 Hendrick Ford this season with Chase Elliott moving to the team's reborn No. 9 vehicle, is still looking for his first Cup top five, but don't rule him out - who can forget Trevor Bayne's win in 2011, when the 20-years-and-one-day-old took the checkered flag in his second Cup race. The first running of the Daytona 500 was held in 1959.

"This is the pinnacle", said 2016 Daytona 500 victor Denny Hamlin.

With the Daytona 500 less than a week away, Kenseth took to Twitter telling fans "Can't believe it's already that time of year..." posting a photo of his family with a plane.

Before the charter system was started, there were 49 entries for the Daytona 500 in 2014 and 2015.

This season, NASCAR is allowing fewer crew members over the wall during pit stops.

Hamlin will have his best career start at second. Then there's a whole list of other quality candidates who pose a threat to win: Keselowski, Harvick, Chase Elliott and many others.

Six former Cup winners will be in the field, led by Truex - the defending champ - and Johnson, who is looking for a record-breaking eighth title.

As for that gimme prediction. "If you want action on a racetrack, look no further than the Daytona 500. Oh, and by the way, it's the biggest race you can possibly win in NASCAR, period". The official definition there means any crash that involves five or more cars, and at Daytona, you can easily surpass that. Between the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Busch is coming off a more successful 2017 season and offers slightly more value than Hamlin. So no, this isn't a bold prediction - if anything, it's closer to a guarantee.

Vanessa Coleman