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Charlotte Observer reporters Alex Zietlow and Shane Connuck will be providing live updates and analysis throughout Saturday’s Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway. See those musings below. Refresh this page as needed.
Live updates from Daytona
Lap 41: And we’re green green green! Joey Logano emerges as the winner on that stage break trip down pit lane. The Top 10 running after pit stops under yellow: Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, Denny Hamlin, Chase Briscoe, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola.
Lap 35: Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin — who he is battling for the regular-season title — and claimed the Stage 1 win. Everyone earning points at the stage finish: Truex, Christopher Bell, Kevin Harvick, Ty Gibbs, Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace, Austin Cindric, Denny Hamlin, Chase Briscoe, Daniel Suarez.
Lap 29: We’ve got a new leader! Denny Hamlin has moved into the top spot, with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs right behind.
Lap 20: Seventeen drivers face “win and get in” scenarios for the postseason beginning after this race, including Chase Briscoe, who has held the lead for the last several minutes. Aric Almirola, Harrison Burton, Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin round out the current top five.
Lap 7: The pack has been pretty tight through the first handful of laps. Most of the energy is in the inside line, but Ty Gibbs and Bubba Wallace — Toyota teammates — are looking to build some momentum on the outside. There’s even a brief three-wide moment, which is rare in Daytona in the Next Gen car era. Top 10 at the moment: Chase Briscoe, Aric Almirola, Harrison Burton, Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, Ty Gibbs, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, AJ Allmendinger, Bubba Wallace.
Green flag, 7:48 p.m.: It’s time! Let’s gooooooo racin’!
7:41 p.m.: Engines fired. Cars making their ways around the track. Clear skies and 84 degrees — beautiful night for racing. Green flag soon! (Update: The No. 41 car — Ryan Preece — will fall to the rear due to unapproved adjustments.)
7:34 p.m.: While we wait, one storyline from this weekend at Daytona that no one saw coming: Kurt Busch, 45, has officially retired from racing. The 2004 Cup champion made the news official today in an announcement in the Daytona media center. About a year ago, Busch said he wouldn’t return to full-time Cup driving because he still wasn’t 100% after sustaining a concussion in the summer of 2022, and after spending a year trying to get back in the car, he ultimately made the decision final Saturday. He ends his career with 34 Cup victories, and he said he still hopes to work in a consulting role with 23XI Racing.
7:09 p.m.: An administrative note for pre-race timings for those watching at home: Driver Introductions will begin promptly at 6:55 p.m.; Invocation: 7:26:20 p.m.; National Anthem: 7:27:00 p.m.; Command: 7:34:00 p.m.; Green Flag: 7:46:00 p.m. (No cars will go to the rear, NASCAR clarified.)
7:05 p.m.: A look at the most up-to-date betting odds before the green flag drops: Denny Hamlin at 10-1, Chase Elliott at 11-1, Brad Keselowski at 12-1, Joey Logano at 12-1 and Ryan Blaney at 12-1. The Team Penske teammates — Logano and Blaney — haven’t been good in a while, but they’re each great superspeedway racers, and they each are sporting cars with the manufacturer that was king in qualifying yesterday (Ford).
6:50 p.m.: One. Final. Chance. The NASCAR Cup Series regular-season finale is set to begin just after 7:30 p.m. at Daytona International Speedway on NBC, and playoff aspirations abound. After an awesome round of qualifying for Ford, Chase Briscoe will start on the pole, and right next to him will be Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola. Bubba Wallace is the top-starting Toyota in P4, with Ty Gibbs being the top-starting Chevy in P5. (Gibbs and Wallace, of course, are the top two drivers contending for that 16th and final playoff spot.)
Some Observer predictions, you ask? Alex Zietlow is taking William Byron to win it — he perhaps was influenced by a conversation he had with NASCAR great and NBC announcer Steve Letarte earlier in the week — and thinks Wallace will earn the up-for-grabs playoff berth. Shane Connuck is predicting that Kyle Larson takes the checkered flag and Wallace finds himself in the playoffs. Racing soon!
Details on Coke Zero Sugar 400
- Race: Coke Zero Sugar 400
- Place: Daytona International Speedway
- Date: Saturday, August 26
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- Purse: $8,778,583
- TV: NBC, 7 p.m. ET
- Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
- Distance: 400 miles (160 Laps)
- Stages: Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 35), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 95), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)
This story was originally published August 26, 2023, 6:52 PM.