DAYTONA, FL (WMBF) - Late February is always busy down in Daytona, as Speed Weeks culminates in the running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, kicking off the 2017 NASCAR season. Wednesday's Media Day is a full day of interviews, photos and previews for drivers before the Duels begin Thursday night. 62 NASCAR drivers went through one more round of questioning as the hype builds for the biggest weekend in racing.
Jimmie Johnson will be running for his 8th cup championship, and others in the sport are all chasing after him, but the importance of winning the Daytona 500 also weighs heavily with these drivers.
"The shot to win an eighth championship, the shot to win more races, honestly I'm just excited to be here and to get going," Johnson explained. "(I'm) Really excited to start the 2017 season, and regardless of how it turns out or what happens, I'm thankful for my job."
The allure of winning the Super Bowl of racing is something that still sticks with all cup series drivers, too.
"You know there are four or five races throughout the year, in all forms of racing in North America, that you say what the race is - even if you're not a race fan, people understand what that is," A.J. Allmendinger said. "And all you have to do is say 'Daytona 500', and if you win that race, you become part of an elite group of drivers."
For the second straight year, Chase Elliot won the pole for the 500. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is starting second. He started third last year, and missed half of the season due to a concussion. This will be his first time racing since July. The Duels are at 7:00 and 9:00 on Thursday night.