DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season opener kicks off this Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway. The 60th annual Daytona 500 will contest, and a lot of uncertainty will certainly ensue.
But, despite Ford winning seven straight points paying restrictor plate races, Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports will be among the ones to beat.
First off, if they do so, they will likely see a winner among the youngest teams in NASCAR history. HMS will become the first organization to start three drivers under the age of 25 on Sunday (Alex Bowman -24, Chase Elliott – 22 and William Byron – 20).
If Elliott, Byron or Bowman wins the 2018 Daytona 500, it will mark the ninth time a driver has recorded his first career Cup Series win while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing share the all-time record, having each sent eight first-time winners to Victory Lane in Cup Series competition
Meanwhile, with two victories, Jimmie Johnson is the only multi-time Daytona 500 winner expected to compete in this year’s event. The last time there was just one multi-timer Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014) also posting wins for Hendrick Motorsports. A victory for the organization Sunday would tie Petty Enterprises for the most Daytona 500 wins all-time with nine overall.
The next points-paying win by a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will be the organization’s milestone 250th in NASCAR Cup Series competition. With 268 Cup victories, only Petty Enterprises has more.
16 different drivers have contributed to Hendrick Motorsports’ total of 249 points-paying Cup wins. Only the Wood Brothers team, which has sent 19 different drivers to Victory Lane, has more.
The team has been fast and I think a history making Daytona 500 triumph could be on the horizon on Sunday.