Each year, the NASCAR season kicks off with the Great American Race. And if you win the Daytona 500, your life changes.
It’s one reason it’s the race that drivers want to win the most. Another reason? It might be the hardest race to win.
Whether a driver has won the Daytona 500, or is still chasing that checkered flag, all the drivers starting Sunday’s race dream of winning it.
“My favorite part of the whole week is coming to the green flag because there’s just really no anticipation like it that we experience the rest of the year,” said Kevin Harvick.
But they go about with different mindsets, like when to sit back.
“I’ve learned that I need to calm myself down and not be so aggressive making moves,” Harvick said.
Or when to push.
“You go out there and be aggressive, grab what’s yours and try to put yourself in the position to win the thing at the end,” said Joey Logano.
But winning isn’t a forgone conclusion for any driver. Jimmie Johnson’s won it twice. He’s the only driver in Sunday’s field with multiple Daytona 500 victories. And he’s one of only eight drivers in the race that have made it to victory lane.
But he’s had a recent string of bad luck that shows how hard it is to come by those victories. He crashed out of last year’s race. And just this week, he struggled with a pair of crashes in a preliminary race.
“When you come out on the other side of it and win, there’s such a unique feeling at a plate track that it kind of outweighs all the frustration. There’s more frustrating days than exciting days,” Johnson said.