The 2020 racing season gets in gear this weekend at Daytona.
DAYTONA BEACH â The whirring and buzzing and screaming from the sports-car tenors a couple of weeks ago?
Friday, it began giving way to the guttural, thunderous and, in these parts, the oh-so-familiar growls of full-bodied stock cars as the meat and potatoes of a Daytona Speedweeks begins its steady burn.
NASCARâs minor-league ARCA Series took care of the opening monologue with a pair of practice sessions ahead of a 200-mile Saturday race that generally includes a wide mix of veterans and rookies and all of the potential âactionâ such a high-speed recipe can produce.
That 80-lap race is set for a 4:45 start.
It will be preceded by 2020âs first look at the drivers and machinery that will be in your living rooms for the next nine months as the NASCAR Cup Series begins turning laps in preparation for the yearâs first two official competitions.
For 50 minutes beginning at 11:35 a.m., the 18 entries for Sundayâs Busch Clash will shake off the winter doldrums and hopefully get properly tuned for the 75-lap exhibition. On the official schedule, todayâs shakedown is billed as the âFinal Busch Clash Practice,â which is technically correct since itâs also the only Busch Clash practice.
Later in the afternoon, a pair of 50-minute âall skateâ practices (beginning at 1:35 and 3) will be open to all 43 sets of cars, drivers and teams who made the annual pilgrimage in hopes of changing their lives forever in next Sundayâs Great American Race â the 62nd Daytona 500.
Many of those teams will be searching for additional horsepower ahead of this Sundayâs Daytona 500 pole qualifying. Some might be focusing more on setup and handling, with an eye toward next Thursdayâs 150-mile qualifying races. Some might do both.
Often, those practice sessions are mere routine, assuming thereâs such a thing in the 200 mph neighborhood. But at times someone bobbles, and when someone bobbles in the elbow-to-elbow traffic that defines Daytona, sheet metal can break and feelings can bruise.
Whether itâs orderly formality or all hell breaks loose, the second practice will quickly give way to introductions of an ARCA driver lineup made up mostly of unfamiliar names, one of which will eventually etch his (or her) name in the record book of a mammoth motor racing facility thatâs famous worldwide for whatâs going to happen here over the next nine days.