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Oval Office: NASCAR on Track for Exciting Season After Day at the Beach

NASCAR Season Off to Fast Start

We’ve Only Just Begun

The NASCAR Cup Series might have three events behind it, but the regular season is in full swing, with the Daytona 500 wrapping up Speedweek to kick off the season in familiar and exciting fashion.

Speedweek at Daytona provided exciting and, at times, chaotic racing across three series and multiple days, serving as the official launch of what will prove to be a long and fast NASCAR Cup Series season. Daytona provided a surprise winner and potential insight for betting online this weekend for the Pala Casino 400.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on February 05, 2023
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Clash on February 05, 2023 | Meg oliphant/getty images/afp

Let’s check the latest NASCAR news, stats, injury reports, and NASCAR lines for NASCAR Cup Series. We’ve got plenty of NASCAR picks for you to consider.

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Chevrolet Scores First Win Since 2018

A one-ride wonder scored the victory at Daytona for Chevrolet, extending the manufacturer’s streak of Daytona 500 pole positions in 2023.

Hendrick Motorospots-Chevrolet’s Alex Bowman captured poll position for the Daytona 500, extending Chevrolet’s pole-winning streak at Daytona to 11 seasons, dating back to 2013. However, Chevrolet’s dominance in capturing pole position has not been matched in the Daytona 500 itself, with Chevrolet only winning four Daytona 500s (2013, 2014, 2018, 2023).

JTG Daugherty Racing-Chevrolet has only one car in the NASCAR Cup Series. Still, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. navigated through the caution flags and chaos, giving himself an excellent chance to win in the final caution-induced overtime session.

While the Daytona 500 was determined by which car was in the lead at the time of the last caution flag, Stenhouse Jr. was a few quick turns away from winning the Daytona 500 on merit and is the first underdog victory of the season.

While many people would have predicted a Chevrolet would be parked on Victory Lane, few favored Stenhouse Jr. and JTG Daughtery Racing as the team parking its ride there.

“Second Is the Worst, Man”

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano’s post-Daytona comments are a funny but truthful recap of the Daytona experience. Logano’s chances of driving his Team Penske-Ford into Victory Lane went up in chaos behind him as he was challenging Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the lead in the dying moments.

Logano won the first Duel at Daytona and was charging toward his first Daytona 500 win since 2015 when the race ended with a final caution flag during the final overtime laps.

Logano currently leads the NASCAR Cup Series championship and knows a driver needs to collect as many points as possible every weekend and put together a consistent season. So far, so good for the reigning Champion, who is trying to be the first back-to-back Cup Series Champion since Jimmie Johnson won five in a row from 2006-2010.

NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 Recent Results

If the Daytona 500 proved anything, it’s that more drivers than you expect have a chance to win a race on any given weekend in NASCAR.

Hendrick Motorsports-Chevrolet’s Kyle Larson was a preseason online sports betting favorite to win the Cup Series and has been a betting favorite for every session since the Clash at the Coliseum. Larson has won the Pala Casino 400 twice (2017, 2022) and joins Richard Childress Racing-Chevrolet’s Kyle Busch (2013, 2014, 2019) as the only active NASCAR driver with multiple wins at this race.

Stewart-Haas Racing-Chevrolet’s Kevin Harvick (2011), Joe Gibbs Racing-Toyota’s Martin Truex Jr. (2018), Hendrick Motorsports-Chevorlet’s Alex Bowman (2022), and RFK Racing-Ford’s Brad Keselowski (2015) are the other active drivers who have won this race previously.

Keselowski looked good during the Daytona 500, having the fastest final practice time, winning stage one, and leading the most laps of any driver (42). He historically tends to look very good at Daytona.

However, we’ve been impressed with Truex Jr. this season, having won the Clash and the Coliseum and leading 13 laps at Daytona, despite finishing 15th, which was more about being caught up in caution flag chaos at the wrong time and ending up down the finishing order.

NASCAR Cup Series Next Race Information

  • Race: NASCAR Cup Series – Pala Casino 400 (200 Laps/3 Stages)
  • Location: Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA
  • Day/Time: Saturday, Feb. 26, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • NASCAR Cup Series Live stream: NBCSports.com

NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 Winner Preview

We offer a preliminary prediction before doing a full betting preview and NASCAR odds review for the Pala Casino 400 later this week.

Based on the early season results, we favor two drivers heading into the Pala Casino 400: Joe Gibbs Racing-Toyota’s Martin Truex Jr. and Team Penske-Fords Joey Logano. Both drivers have been excellent early this season and are our betting favorites at the beginning of the week.

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