2020 NASCAR Cup Series preview: Daytona road course

The NASCAR Cup Series continues to make its rounds with a race Sunday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway road course. 

The road race at Daytona was scheduled in place of the traditional road race at Watkins Glen after it was canceled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The race will be the only regular-season road course this season in the Cup Series. 

As a result, the field will have to contend with a course many drivers have little to no familiarity with even though the postseason is quickly approaching. 

Kevin Harvick, the current leader in points (916), wins (six) and laps led (888), will start on the pole. The 44-year-old for Stewart-Haas Racing swept the doubleheader slate at Michigan last weekend and has finished in the top 10 in his past 10 races. His lowest finish during the streak has been 10th (Talladega on June 22). Harvick‚Äôs 15 finishes inside the top five and 19 finishes inside the top 10 both lead the field. 

Denny Hamlin, who finished runner-up to Harvick last weekend in the second race at Michigan, will start second. The No. 11 for Joe Gibbs Racing is second in wins (five), second in laps led (631) and third in points (776). 

Chase Elliott will be the highest-starting Chevrolet (seventh). Out of three road races last season (Sonoma, Watkins Glen and Charlotte Roval), Elliott won two of them (Watkins Glen and Charlotte Roval). Elliott, who has a playoff spot locked up, has finished in the top 10 in his last three races (New Hampshire and both Michigan races). 

Jimmie Johnson currently holds the final spot in the playoff field (16th), while Erik Jones currently sits below the cutline (17th). Johnson and Jones will start 11th and 20th, respectively. 

Austin Dillon, who has a playoff spot locked in, will not race this weekend after testing positive for COVID-19. In his stead, Kaz Grala will race in the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing. The 21-year-old has never participated in a Cup race. In 29 career races in the Xfinity Series, Grala has finished in the top five four times. Grala will start the race in 10th

Stages for the 14-turn course will end on lap 15, lap 30 and the finish on lap 65. TV coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m. EST on NBC. The Motor Racing Network will provide radio coverage.

Starting lineup: 

Pit stall assignments:

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/08/11/goodyear-fast-facts-daytona-road-course/

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