NASCAR: 3 drivers make history with first ever Daytona 500 feat

Ty Gibbs, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Ty Gibbs, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

No Daytona 500 has ever featured the reigning NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Truck Series champions. That is set to change on Sunday.

Front Row Motorsports’ Zane Smith was one of six drivers battling for four spots to fill the 40-car field for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, as the 36 chartered entries were all locked into the race and the entry list consisted of 42 cars.

After not getting in on qualifying speed on Wednesday night, he became one of four drivers battling for the final two spots.

But Smith was able to race his way in via the first of two Bluegreen Vacations Duels qualifying races on Thursday night, and he is set to make his Daytona 500 debut behind the wheel of the No. 36 Ford on Sunday afternoon.

As a result, the 65th annual Daytona 500 is set to become the first to feature the reigning NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Truck Series champions.

Of course, the Truck Series only began 1995 and the Xfinity Series only began in 1982, meaning that this year’s Daytona 500 is only the 29th in which this feat could have possibly been accomplished.

Nevertheless, a first in nearly three decades is still a pretty remarkable feat.

Team Penske’s Joey Logano, the reigning Cup Series champion, and Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Ty Gibbs, the reigning Xfinity Series champion, were both locked into the race, as their No. 22 Ford and No. 54 Toyota, respectively, are two of the 36 chartered entries.

Smith, on the other hand, is not a full-time Cup Series driver. He is set to try to defend his Truck Series title this year and is only slated to compete in seven of the 36 Cup Series races on this year’s schedule, including six in the chartered No. 38 Ford.

Interestingly, the teams for which these three drivers are set to compete in the Daytona 500 are the same teams with which they won their 2022 titles, despite the fact that they represented three different series last year.

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The Daytona 500 is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, February 19. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!