- The 2009 Sprint Cup Series schedule officially gets underway on Sunday afternoon with the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Ryan Newman won the Daytona 500 last season, but he didn’t pick up enough momentum from that victory to earn himself a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Kyle Busch won the Coke Zero 500 at Daytona last July.
Kevin Harvick won the Daytona 500 back in 2007, while defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag in the event back in 2006. Jeff Gordon was the 2005 Daytona 500 champ, and he has piled up six Cup wins on the track.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 back in 2004, and he also visited victory lane in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in 2001. Tony Stewart has a pair of Pepsi 400 wins on his resume, while Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, and Jeff Burton each won that race once.
The Vegas futures heading into the week had Busch pegged as the 4/1 favorite to win the Daytona 500, with Johnson at 5/1, Earnhardt Jr. at 6/1, and Hamlin at 8/1. Gordon and Carl Edwards were both holding down 12/1 odds to start the season with a win.
The starting lineup for the Daytona 500 will be decided on Thursday in the Gatorade Duel, a pair of 150-mile qualifying races. Coverage for Sunday is set to begin at 2:00pm ET. Harvick won the annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona over the weekend.
After racing at Daytona the drivers of the Sprint Cup Series will move on to Fontana for a race on February 22. The circuit’s March schedule will then feature events at Las Vegas, Atlanta, Bristol, and Martinsville.