The 2021 NASCAR Season is finally here, and it all begins with the ‘Great American Race.’ The NASCAR Daytona 500 is all set to kick-off with a lot of exciting stories to watch out for, with the best drivers battling it out for one of the most important trophies in the sport. When talking about the Daytona 500, it is impossible to look past Denny Hamlin. The Joe Gibbs Racing superstar is chasing his third straight and fourth Daytona 500 title overall. If he wins on Sunday, Hamlin will become the first driver in history to win this iconic race three times in a row. He will be aware of the challenge, though, with the likes of Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Joey Logano, all breathing down his neck. AVONDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 08: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Season Finale 500 and the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 08, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)Elliott, on the other hand, is looking to become the first NASCAR Cup champion to win the subsequent Daytona 500, since the year 2000. He is on a confidence high, and after winning the Cup title, a Daytona 500 win would be his biggest goal. The task looks fairly difficult, though, as he will start the race in 12th place. How did the build-up to the 2021 NASCAR Daytona 500 pan out? The Daytona 500 saw an interesting build-up with practice, qualifying, the Busch Clash, and the Daytona Duels giving drivers the much-needed warm-up ahead of the big race. Alex Bowman ensured he grabbed pole position for Sunday’s race, and teammate William Byron joined him on the front row. The new 23XI Racing driver, Bubba Wallace, impressed in his first outing in his new car as well, topping practice and bagging the sixth spot for Sunday’s starting line-up. His best Cup finish so far was in the 2018 edition of this race and he will aim to go one better with his new team. Feb 11, 2021; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillion (3) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23) race for the finish line during the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsAnother superstar who will be very confident going into the race is Kyle Busch. The two-time Cup champion is still chasing a Daytona 500 win, and his victory at the Busch Clash earlier this week is a big momentum boost. That win came on the Daytona Road Course and is not an indicator of success on the oval tracks, but a win is always important prior to such a big race. Can these former drivers bag another win? Kevin Harvick, a former 500 winner, is always one of the favorites, given his record at the track. It will be interesting to see his response after the playoff disappointment last season. Another former winner, Joey Logano, is one driver who can certainly use his aggression to great effect on the track. Austin Dillon won one of the two Daytona Duels, and he is one driver to never count out in this race. The 2018 winner can pack a serious punch in the iconic No. 3 car, and he will fancy his chances this year as well. Feb 11, 2021; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillion (3) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23) race for the finish line during the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsAric Almirola, the Stewart-Haas driver, won the other Duel and was also neck-t0-neck with Dillon in the 2018 race. He emerges as one of the dark horses for Sunday’s race. One of the most anticipated comebacks this season is that of Kyle Larson. The new Hendrick Motorsports driver has the equipment to make him a serious contender. What better way than the Daytona 500 to show he is here to stay? Larson starts the race in 13th place, just behind teammate Elliott. All in all, this could turn out to be the most enthralling Daytona 500 yet. The stage is set, and all eyes will be on these superstars in the season-opener. Who will win the 2021 race? While many of these drivers can win on their day, we expect the man with the most Daytona 500 wins of the lot to add another historic win to his name. Many believe a third-straight Daytona win is extremely tough to accomplish, but Denny Hamlin might just get the job done as he knows what it takes to win this race, better than most. PREDICTION: Denny Hamlin to win his third-straight and fourth Daytona 500 in six years READ MORE – NASCAR Daytona 500 2021 Weather Forecast: Will Rain Play Spoilsport on Sunday?
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