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Earnhardt already has two 500 victories for his name, but a win at this year's race likely would be one of the sweetest victories of his career.

"I think the Penske cars, if you have to make a list, that's the top of the list", McMurray said. Hamlin, who drives the No. 11 vehicle for Joe Gibbs Racing, won by a whopping.01 seconds over Martin Truex Jr.in 2016, and didn't even know he won after he crossed the finish line.

Here's what's scary for Johnson's competitors: The 41-year-old believes he still has plenty of room to grow. I think we have a number of days when we're born that we're going to live.

The good news for rookie Daniel Suarez is that he will start his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup career this week in one of the sport's best cars - the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota formerly driven by Carl Edwards. And with cars going to the garage no longer allowed back in races (another new rule), causes of wrecks that come from overly aggressive restarts will really be under the microscope.

Why the change? The hope is that by chopping up the race three ways, there will be more urgent and compelling competition throughout, especially with championship points available in each segment.

There's a reason Earnhardt said Wednesday at NASCAR's Media Day that he would love to win the championship this season and walk away while he's on top. It's a very big deal for a small team like ours.

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In addition, points are being awarded for the Can-Am Duels at Daytona, the qualifying races for the Daytona 500, for the first time. I couldn't wait to get back in the auto and back on the track.

Do you ever wonder what it's like to be the person getting the lovely shots of the Daytona 500 from high above the race track? I probably had three major concussions in my career, and raced the next week.

There is no doubt that Dale's recent marriage and the health scare from previous year has changed the way he looks at life these days.

NASCAR's most popular driver has made it clear, he will not beat his brains out - literally - in order to continue racing.

My teammate Jimmie johnson rides a road bike quite a bit, and he's trying to get other teammates to do it-that might be something in my future I'll do a little bit more of.

RACE FAVORITES? Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano teamed to win six of the last nine restrictor-plate races, and Logano won the exhibition Clash on Sunday. "I love what I do, but I love lots of other things and I also love life, and I'm too young to have it be over". It makes you think for sure. "And after winning it once, you get the feel for it and it makes you want to win it again". But when it is, I've seen her drive and I know she can get the job done, and I know she can get the job done on Sunday.