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"I think the sport today, with the young talent, with Chase Elliott, (Kyle) Larson, (Austin and Ty) Dillon, (Erik) Jones - all this group of young talent - I don't think, in my time, I've seen this much great young talent coming along in our sport in 50 years probably".

"I just needed to ask myself, you know, whether I had more left and whether I still had the passion to do it and I wanted to be out there and I do", confessed Earnhardt. I'm sure that will be amped up Sunday.

Logano is a 17-time victor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and has 14 wins in the last three years, which is tied with Jimmy Johnson among active drivers in that span.

We're going to have to adjust to the new point situation and race smart. But that promotion implies that drivers previously weren't driving hard, and many drivers are adamant that their effort isn't affected by the new format. It allowed us to make the Chase and have a shot at becoming a champion.

"I don't have a slower gear", Joey Logano said.

"The coolest thing that happened to me, hands down, was I got a picture from Mario Andretti of when he won the race and it said, 'Finally, another Italian won the Daytona 500.' " Logano said. During his career he has won 17 pole positions and has finished in the top five 81 times. The race will be Kennington's second in NASCAR's top-tier Monster Energy Cup Series, following a 35-place finish at the Can-Am 500 in Phoenix last November. And Busch would rather that win come on the final lap than the 60th or 120th lap.

"I'm part of a TV team with Fox and I've got great teammates there, but it's just fun to experience what I did for so long one more time". Here are some interesting statistics about the race. "I thought we were the second-best auto and we were third".

Joe Gibbs Racing ranked second in the list, with an estimated worth of $225 million and Stewart-Haas Racing, which changed its manufacturer alliance from Chevrolet to Ford in the offseason, came in at third at $180 million.

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Drivers raced with a little more objective and passion than previous Duels, but Elliott would not be denied.

The 14-time defending Cup Series Most Popular Driver previously won the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014, but finished a career-worst 36th previous year despite starting the race in the No. 3 position.

Race 1 runner-up Jamie McMurray and race 2 victor Hamlin will start behind single-car qualifying winners Elliott and Earnhardt on Sunday. Sadler is also in, based on his qualifying speed.

The other "winner" in Thursday's first qualifier was Corey Lajoie, who only beat three other cars in the 21-car field, but one of them belonged to Reed Sorenson, the other non-charter driver battling for one of two available spots in the 500. "It certainly wasn't on goal". I was always unlucky when I would go to any superspeedway, really, before previous year.

The absence of Dale Earnhardt Jr. for 18 races last season raised awareness on concussions in racing, and NASCAR this year has beefed up its concussion policy in an effort to better detect head injuries.

In past years the complaint about this race was that drivers were overly careful of protecting their primary 500 vehicle and didn't want to take any chances.

Jeffrey Earnhardt's mother, Rene Earnhardt, is a native of Rural Retreat who has lived in North Carolina for the past two decades. We're ready to go for the 500. Danville sports agent Doug Barnette is associated with the team. The contact sent him head-first into the inside wall - and out of the Daytona 500.


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