Published February 01, 2010
After seemingly weeks of buildup, the start of a new season is finally here.
Over the next two weeks, NASCAR's top three racing series will all take the green flag for the 2010 campaign. Along the way, you'll see over a hundred hours of coverage on FOX and SPEED from Daytona International Speedway.
So what should you be paying attention to? When's everything taking place?
We've got you covered, so let's get started.
Thursday, February 4
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. ET – Media Day at Daytona International Speedway
Before drivers can get on the track, they must face the gauntlet of the media one more time.
The annual rite of Speedweeks, Media Day, is the first event of the season, and it allows drivers one last opportunity to get their message out about the upcoming season ("This is how we plan to beat Jimmie Johnson this year") as well as answer all the fun lifestyle questions that always seem to come up, from "How do you go to the bathroom during a race?" to "What was your first car?"
Although there isn't the same level of zaniness during NASCAR media day as there is at the Super Bowl, there are always a few surprises that come out of the drivers' mouths.
FOXSports.com senior NASCAR writer Lee Spencer and editor Jorge A. Mondaca will have you covered right here while SPEED will have coverage of the day's event in a special show at 7:30 p.m. ET.
9:30 a.m. ET – Sprint Cup Series haulers arrive at Daytona International Speedway
Noon-4:50 p.m. ET – ARCA practice
5:00-5:45 p.m. ET – Budweiser Shootout practice (LIVE on SPEED)
6:30-7:30 p.m. ET – Budweiser Shootout final practice (LIVE on SPEED)
Cars finally take the track in the afternoon and all eyes will be watching as Danica Patrick gets behind the wheel of a stock car. She's not the only big name in the ARCA Series as ex-Formula One driver Nelson Piquet Jr. (the son of three-time F1 World Champion Nelson Piquet), IRL driver Milka Duno, Motorcross and Supercross legend Ricky Carmichael and many wannabe stars of the future will also be in the field.
After that, NASCAR's best drivers take to the 2.5-mile track for the first two practices of the season for the Budweiser Shootout. New rules for the event give last year's 12 Chase for the Sprint Cup participants an invite to the event (along with past Daytona winners), so we'll get a chance to gauge where the cream of the crop stands very early.
As with all the Sprint Cup practices this year, FOXSports.com will provide lap-by-lap times of the Shootout practices.
8:00 p.m. ET – Drawing party for the Budweiser Shootout
Who'll start where in the invitation-only event? The luck of the draw will decide things.
Friday, February 5
11:00 a.m. ET – ARCA Qualifying
2:10-3:30 p.m. ET – Daytona 500 practice (LIVE on SPEED)
4:00-5:30 p.m. ET – Daytona 500 practice (LIVE on SPEED)
After we find out how the ARCA field shakes out, it's time for the entire Sprint Cup Series field to tune their cars in anticipation of qualifying for "The Great American Race" on Saturday. The speed charts may look a little slow at first, but remember that teams are looking for single car speed.
5:40-6:30 p.m. ET – Final ARCA practice
Saturday, February 6
1:00 p.m. ET – Daytona 500 qualifying (LIVE on FOX)
4:30 p.m. ET – ARCA Series race (LIVE on SPEED)
8:00 p.m. ET – Budweiser Shootout (LIVE on FOX)
It's a Super Saturday for stock car racing as the first three major events of the season take place.
First, we'll find out who will start on the front row for the 52nd annual Daytona 500. Be on the lookout for Chevrolet teams, which have captured the last two (Martin Truex Jr. in 2009 and Jimmie Johnson in '08) and five in the last 10 years, but don't count out the Ford camp, which boasts four pole positions in that span. It may not seem important to win the pole for the race, but remember that nine Daytona 500 winners started in the lead.
From there, we move on to the ARCA race. To make a good first impression, Danica will have to avoid the walls and the rest of the field, as this event tends to have a multitude of crashes as young drivers get a feel of racing in the big time.
And finally, we get our first taste of racing in 2010 with the Budweiser Shootout. How will the larger restrictor plate affect racing? Who will be able to avoid "The Big One"? Tune in, log on, and find out for yourself.
Sunday. February 7 to Tuesday, February 9
With qualifying getting moved to Saturday, the track will have three dark days instead of two.
There may be no track activity on those days, but FOXSports.com will bring you all the latest updates and analysis, so make sure to log on each day to read more about the front row for the Daytona 500, Danica's first race and her outlook for the rest of the year, and much more.
Wednesday, February 10
Noon-1:30 pm – Daytona 500 practice (LIVE on SPEED)
2:00-2:50 pm - Daytona 500 practice (LIVE on SPEED)
3:00-5:00 pm - Nationwide Series practice
6:00-7:30 pm – Camping World Truck Series practice (LIVE on SPEED)
After a few days of rest, NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers get back on track for practice but now the focus will be solely on drafting practice as the Gatorade Duel qualifying races are just hours away and the Daytona 500 gets closer and closer.
In the late afternoon and evening we'll get our first chance to check out the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series in action.
Thursday, February 11
9:00-11:00 am - Final Truck Series practice (LIVE on SPEED)
11:30 am - 1:00 pm - Final Nationwide Series practice
2:00 pm – Gatorade Duel 1 (followed by Gatorade Duel 2) LIVE on SPEED
By now we'll know at least the 35 drivers who are locked into the field for the Daytona 500. But there's still the nagging matter of those eight remaining positions. Oh yeah. And where will everybody start? This is the only points-paying Cup race that uses qualifying races to determine the starting lineup and things can get a bit frenzied as the battle is on for position.
Emotions will run sky high before and after the event, making it one of the "can't miss" events of Speedweeks.
6:10 pm – Truck Series qualifying (LIVE on SPEED)
Friday, February 12
1:40-2:40 pm – Daytona 500 practice (LIVE on SPEED)
A reminder of how quickly things can change during these practice sessions? Tony Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman wrecked each other during the Friday practice last year, forcing each to a backup car and to the back of the field for the start of the 500.
Anything can happen, so stay tuned.
3:10 pm – Nationwide Series qualifying
8:00 pm – Truck Series race (LIVE on SPEED)
100 laps (250 miles) of trucks beating and banging on the high banks of Daytona – what more could you want? Todd Bodine is your defending race winner.
Saturday, February 13
10:30-11:55 am – Final Daytona 500 practice (LIVE on SPEED)
This is the last call for drivers and teams to find speed before the green flag, so every second counts.
1:15 pm – Nationwide Series race
Plenty of Sprint Cup regulars will be mixing it up in this race. The final appetizer before the main course is scheduled for 120 laps (300 miles). Clint Bowyer is your defending race winner.
Sunday, February 14
Noon ET - Coverage of the Daytona 500 begins on FOX
1:00 p.m. ET – Running of the 52nd annual Daytona 500
What else can we say? This is the biggest stock car race of the season.
Tune in for all the coverage from the 200 lap (500 mile) event and experience for yourself why they call it "The Great American Race." Log on for lap-by-lap coverage of the race and keep your computers on all day for the latest analysis, photos, and videos from Daytona.