DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin cannot wait to get his No. 11 car back.
It has been sitting on display inside the Motorsports Hall of Fame outside Daytona International Speedway for the past year. That is just one of the honors of being a Daytona 500 champion. The winning driver’s car goes on display inside the museum.
This is the stuff of racing legends. Daytona is not just a destination, it is one of the symbols of the sport, a cathedral track that has changed the lives of drivers who have dreamed of what the place looks like from Victory Lane.
On Sunday, the 62nd Daytona 500 will add its next legend, perhaps a repeat winner such as Joey Logano or Austin Dillon. Maybe seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson can win in his final Daytona 500 as a full-time driver.
Six talented rookies will be heard from before the day is over.
One thing is guaranteed, the winner will never forget a detail of the day.
“I remember so much about that evening,” said the 2008 champion, Ryan Newman. “It was so special to me and I don’t remember any part of it that I wish I would have done differently. You just live in that moment and I would love to feel that moment again.”
The party seemed like it would last forever to 2017 champion Kurt Busch.
“I literally just took the trophy, the Harley J. Earl with me all season long,” Busch said. “And took it around similar to the Stanley Cup.”
Busch will have a harder time winning a second Daytona 500, according to the sportsbook Vegas Insider.
Busch’s brother, Kyle, who has yet to win a Daytona 500, is one of the four pre-race favorites at 10 to one odds. Busch is joined by Hamlin, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Behind those drivers are Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick at 12 to one odds.