Anticipation is building here in Dawson County and all around the racing world as the Daytona 500 is set to commence on Sunday. Feb. 19.
"The Great American Race" will once again play host to an exciting field of drivers — and there are plenty of interesting storylines to take in leading up to the race.(Story continues below)
What we know:
It turns out that Chase Elliott might not be the only North Georgia boy to take on NASCAR’s brightest crown jewel race.
Pickens County native Chandler Smith will be attempting to qualify for his first Daytona 500 entry. Just weeks after earning his first full-time Xfinity Series ride with Kaulig Racing, Smith confirmed last month that he planned to enter five races in the Cup Series with Kaulig.
The 20-year-old will drive the No. 13 car sponsored by Quick Tie and have his attempts at qualification on Wednesday, Feb. 15, followed by the Bluegreen Vacations Duels on Thursday.
While seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson announced his intention to race at Daytona before Smith, it is now confirmed that he will drive the No. 84 car for Legacy Motor Club — formerly known as Petty GMS and previous monikers.
For racing fans looking out for new paint schemes, look for Johnson’s car to be a dark blue color with Carvana as the primary sponsor.
Kyle Busch will also run in a new scheme, driving the No. 8 car for Richard Childress Racing. He will be driving in a black and gold car sponsored by 3CHI that was frequently raced by Tyler Reddick last year.
What to expect:
Elliott will once again be looking for his first trip to victory lane at the Daytona 500, having been a two-time pole winner and finishing as high as second in 2021.
This year’s race will likely see excitement from several drivers — some looking to establish their presence and others looking to settle scores.
One driver to watch will be Ryan Blaney, who missed out on victory lane in 2022 despite earning 17 top-10 finishes. His strong history at superspeedways suggests he will be aiming for a win at Daytona.
Throughout the race, the feuds between Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin or Kyle Busch and Joey Logano may come to the surface once more.
Elliott, for his own purposes, will be seeking to get his year off to a strong start, coming off a 2022 season where he won five races and finished fourth in the playoff standings.
The Daytona 500 will begin at 2:30 p.m. on FOX, with a watch party being held at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame here in Dawsonville. For more information on tickets for the watch party, contact the GRHOF at 706-216-7223.