President’s Day Weekend to Include Daytona 500 Again
For the first time since 2011, the Daytona 500 will return to its original Presidents Day Weekend to kick off the 2018 NASCAR racing season. Though in recent years the race had been held in late February / early March, from 1968 to 2011 it was customarily on President’s Day Weekend. In fact, the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959 was held on George Washington’s birthday, February 22nd. The 2018 Daytona 500 will be the sixtieth running of the iconic race and has Danica Patrick fans eagerly making plans to journey to the Daytona International Speedway.
Many fans are excited to see how this race will play out with the new NASCAR rules and points system. In an attempt to both acquire new racing fans while making the races more interesting for existing fans, NASCAR changed to a points-based system which can dramatically impact how the season plays out. There will be 36 total races in 2018 with the final 10 being playoff races.
During the first 26 events, drivers and teams will earn points which will build up and count toward their spot in the playoffs. Each race is also divided into three stages with points being able to be earned at each stage. This change was made to both encourage racing teams to participate in every event and spread excitement over the length of the race. In the past, many fans would only show up near the end of an event, which was seen as more exciting and directly impacting who the winner would be.
Danica's fans are excited for the Daytona 500, as it will be one of two farewell races driven by 35 year-old Danica Patrick, the other being the Indianapolis 500. In November, Patrick announced that she was ending her full-time racing career in the NASCAR Cup Series and would only be driving in two races in 2018 as a way to say farewell to fans. These particular races are also important to Patrick as she is the only woman to have led laps at both Daytona and Indy where her highest finish was third in 2009. Of course for her final NASCAR race, her fans and her sponsors are hopeful she finishes on the top tier of the podium to end her NASCAR career.