AUTO RACING: Auto racing season opens with 3 NASCAR races at Daytona, the last the premier 500

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Daytona 500

Site: Daytona Beach, Florida.

Schedule: Wednesday, qualifying, 8:15 p.m.; Thursday, Duel 1, 7 p.m., and Duel 2, 8:45 p.m.; Friday, practice, 5:35 p.m.; Saturday, practice, 10:30 a.m.; Sunday, race, 2:30 p.m. (FOX).

Track: Daytona International Speedway.

Race distance: 200 laps, 500 miles.

Last year: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won after starting 31st.

Last race: Ross Chastain won the season finale in Phoenix while Ryan Blaney finished second and won his first championship.

Fast facts: Blaney's only race victories last year came in the 31st (Talladega) and 35th (Martinsville). He beat fellow title contenders Kyle Larson, William Byron and Christopher Bell, giving Team Penske its second straight championship. Joey Logano won in 2022. ... Annual title contenders Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott are both recovering from shoulder surgeries but will be ready to race. Hamlin won the Busch Light Clash in Los Angeles on Feb. 3. ... Martin Truex Jr. made noise about retiring last year but signed a one-year extension with Joe Gibbs Racing. ... Kevin Harvick did retire after a winless season but with 60 wins (10th all-time) and a record 14 straight playoff appearances, along with a 2014 series championship.

Next race: Feb. 25, Hampton, Georgia.



United Rentals 300

Site: Daytona Beach, Florida.

Schedule: Friday, practice, 4:35 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, 11:30 a.m., and race, 5 p.m. (FS1).

Track: Daytona International Speedway.

Race distance: 120 laps, 300 miles.

Last year: Austin Hill won from the pole position.

Last race: Cole Custer won after starting seventh and claimed his first championship in the series.

Fast facts: John Hunter Nemechek led the series with seven wins last season, but is moving to the Cup Series full-time this year. ... Notable driver changes: Sheldon Creed has moved from Richard Childress Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing after finishing seventh in points last year. Sammy Smith has moved from Gibbs to JR Motorsports after finishing sixth in points last year. Chandler Smith has moved from Kaulig Racing to Gibbs after finishing ninth in points last year. Shane van Gisbergen of New Zealand, who won the road race in the Cup Series in Chicago last year, will compete full-time in the series for Kaulig. A.J. Allendinger will race full-time in the series this year, also for Kaulig.

Next race: Feb. 24, Hampton, Georgia.



Fresh From Florida 250

Site: Daytona Beach, Florida.

Schedule: Thursday, practice, 5:05 p.m.; Friday, qualifying, 3 p.m., and race, 7:30 p.m. (FS1).

Track: Daytona International Speedway.

Race distance: 100 laps, 250 miles.

Last year: Zane Smith won after starting 15th.

Last race: Ben Rhodes' fifth-place finish in a crash-filled, quadruple-overtime season finale at Phoenix earned him his second series championship in three years by one point over Grant Enfinger, while non-championship contender Christian Eckes won for the fourth time of the season.

Fast facts: Thad Moffitt, a grandson of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, will compete full-time in the series with a newly formed race team. Moffitt made four starts during the 2022 season. His best result came at Daytona, finishing 18th.

Next race: Feb. 24, Hampton, Georgia.



Last race: Three-time champion Max Verstappen won the season finale in Abu Dhabi, his seventh consecutive victory and season-record 19th in 22 races in 2023.

Next race: Sakhir, Bahrain, March 2.



Last race: Scott Dixon won at Laguna Seca, his third win of the season, all in the last four races. The six-time champion gave Chip Ganassi Racing a 1-2 finish in the standings. A week earlier, teammate Alex Palou had become the first driver in 18 years to clinch the title before the final race of the season.

Next race: St. Petersburg, Florida, March 10.



Next event: March 7-10, Gainesville, Florida.



Next events: Feb. 15, 16 and 17, Barberville, Florida.



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