The Daytona 500 Hasn't Happened Yet But NASCAR Already Has Points Leaders

The Daytona 500 Hasn't Happened Yet But NASCAR Already Has Points Leaders

Had Denny Hamlin not made a mistake on the final lap and allowed Brad Keselowski to slip underneath the Toyota driver would not have surrendered the lead.

See the Daytona 500 live!

And the usual suspects - Hamlin, Logano and Keselowski - seem to be up front at every turn.

After Sunday's race, the job will be full time.

The Daytona 500 has always provided fans with hard-nosed racing and fantastic finishes just like the one we witnessed a year ago, when Denny Hamlin edged Martin Truex the finish line by 0.010 seconds-the closest margin of victory in the history of the Daytona 500. It's a clear indication Hendrick has the horsepower - as usual - to be a factor in NASCAR's opener.

He knows his final race will be emotional. If it takes more than five minutes to make the repairs, the vehicle will not be allowed to return to action. (Crew chief) Chad (Knaus), their time together.

Pole-sitter Chase Elliott could have taken his lumps, learned his lesson and looked to make a better run from the No. 1 spot during Sunday's Daytona 500. "I thought we definitely, by choosing four tires, was the right call because my vehicle wasn't quite running or handling the way I thought it should for being at night - so, I wanted that extra grip". "So we'll look at what we did then and what we're doing now and sorta go through the process of elimination and that's kinda what we (have) been doing until we fix it". NASCAR fans still plan their February vacation around the 500, but the days of camping out in the infield for weeks or parking your multi-million-dollar RV and making new friends around the nightly bonfire are gone. "Everybody is working on it", Johnson said.

Since the race only set the starting lineup, teams didn't try to knock Elliott out of the way.

"I just had to beat him", LaJoie said. If you could get to seven, then you've tied it. The newly married driver didn't rule out a shorter than expected career. Concussion assessment tests are administered if care center doctors believe there is a concern of head injury. I know this is just a Duel win, but it means a lot to me. "He used a little bit of strategy to get the lead".

By now, you know the basic NASCAR storylines as the 2017 season begins.

PATRICK'S RUN: Danica Patrick did it again at Daytona. But only one Daytona 500 entry is unbeaten so far - the No. 24 of Elliott, who was fastest in pole qualifying and then a victor Thursday night. He has won the Daytona 500 twice (2004 and 2014) and has finished in the top-five in the standings multiple times, with the last one being a fifth place finish in 2013.

"I didn't think anybody was going to help us there the first part of the race", Elliott said.

Earnhardt's Hendrick teammate, and reigning champion, Jimmie Johnson's poor luck has continued at Daytona. During his career he has won 17 pole positions and has finished in the top five 81 times. Kyle Busch. 4. Denny Hamlin. 5.

"It's definitely kind of like a bittersweet feeling", he said.

In years past, with Elliott already on the pole, his victory wouldn't have offered him much more than a trip to Victory Lane, but this season he also collects 10 points for the finish which will go toward his total from the Daytona 500 weekend. His car's make? A Ford.

New series sponsor in Monster Energy.

In a scarier moment, Reed Sorenson lost control of his auto with 12 laps to go and had a head-on collision with the same concrete wall near Turn 1 hit by Busch in 2015 that left Busch with severe leg injuries. Under the new deal, NASCAR's premiere series is now officially called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.