Daniel Suárez Preparing for 2018 Daytona 500

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What would it be like if the Super Bowl was the NFL's first game of a season instead of its last? It's a record-tying fourth consecutive year a Hendrick vehicle has won the Daytona 500 pole. Dale Earnhardt was the most beloved NASCAR driver ever and tragically died in the 2001 Daytona 500.

The 20-year-old ran the fastest lap (at an average speed of 201.681 mph) during Saturday's second practice before finishing fifth in Sunday's qualifying. It's the fourth straight pole for Hendrick Motorsports.

"This is really a dream come true to be part of the Cup Series and be with a great race team that has a chance to win", Byron said in a Hendrick Motorsports release.

Final eliminations coverage of the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series was also down from its 2017 numbers, but with the caveat that this year's finals aired on FS1.

Keselowski has yet to win the Daytona 500 but is likely the best restrictor-place racer on the circuit now that Earnhardt Jr. has retired.

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Martin Truex Jr is the defending Monster Energy Cup Series champion, and will be the favorite to repeat in 2018. Qualify for the race, run a handful of laps and park the vehicle for the day?

Before the charter system was started, there were 49 entries for the Daytona 500 in 2014 and 2015. The field of 40 cars will be set Thursday night by the Daytona 500's unique qualifying races, called Duels, where drivers who have not already won a starting spot on the front row will be placed on the grid based on their finish in one of the two 150-mile Duel races. Earnhardt is the latest big Cup Series retiree, coming on the heels of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart in recent years, with Matt Kenseth joining them on the sideline at the end of 2017.

Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are all +1200 to win. He missed the race the next year, and was out of a job after the 2016 season. Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 but has been knocked out of the past two in crashes. The first running of the Daytona 500 was held in 1959.

Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR points champion and two-time Daytona victor, is +1400.

For more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week's top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery.

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