SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES
The date for the 63rd annual Daytona 500 is set for Feb. 14, 2021. It will mark the 40th straight time (dating back to 1982) that the race has started off NASCAR’s season. Just a week later, on Feb. 21, NASCAR racing in Florida will continue with Homestead-Miami Speedway moving to the second race on the schedule.
Next year’s summer classic Coke Zero Sugar 400 is set for Saturday evening, Aug. 28.
“The Daytona 500 is a tradition fans worldwide get excited about. The drivers, teams, media and sponsors come here with so much anticipation and hope of winning our sport’s biggest event,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile.
“We are also eager to see if Denny Hamlin can rewrite the Daytona 500 record book with his third straight victory in The Great American Race. We can’t wait to see fans from all over the world here in February.’’
Hamlin seeks history
Hamlin could become the first driver in the history of the 2.5-mile venue to capture three consecutive checkered flags in the Daytona 500. Currently, he, along with Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95), are the only drivers to claim two straight Daytona 500 victories.
In fact, with a win, Hamlin would join Yarborough with four total Daytona 500 victories, trailing only Petty, who has seven. Hamlin is already a three-time Daytona 500 champion, also winning in 2016.
With the Daytona 500 and Homestead-Miami Speedway’s event, it marks the first time since 1952-54 that the NASCAR Cup Series season has opened with the first two events in the state of Florida.
In both 1952 and 1954, the first three events kicked off the season in Florida – Palm Beach Speedway, the Daytona Beach/Road Course and Speedway Park in Jacksonville. The ’53 season began at the Palm Beach track followed by road course at Daytona. The three venues are no longer in existence.
The full 2021 NASCAR schedule can be found at nascar.com. Daytona 500 tickets are available at www.Daytona500.com. More information on the Coke Zero Sugar 400 can be found at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.