By David Morgan, Associate Editor
There’s a new wrinkle to next month’s NASCAR Cup Series race at the Daytona International Speedway road course in the form of a chicane that will alter the layout for the course’s debut race.
The August 16 event was originally scheduled to run on the same layout as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, NASCAR and track officials elected to put in the new chicane between the exit of Turn 4 and the tri-oval, much like what is in place at the Charlotte ROVAL, in an effort to not only slow the cars down, but also create another passing opportunity.
With the new chicane in place, the layout increases from 12 turns, 3.56-miles to 14 turns, 3.57-miles.
“Daytona International Speedway is known for producing iconic moments in the history of NASCAR, and this will surely join that long list,” said track President Chip Wile. “Just when you thought the racing couldn’t get any more intense and interesting at the ‘World Center of Racing,’ it did. The turn four chicane gives the drivers a final shot to make a pass coming to the famed finish line. The fans in the venue are going to be in for a treat on the DAYTONA Road Course – just like the races on the old Daytona beach/road course that were put on by Bill France, Sr. in the 1940s and ‘50s.”
Ahead of the @NASCAR race weekend on August 14-16, a new chicane has been added to the DAYTONA Road Course.
Hop on board with Ben Kennedy as he takes us on a lap of the new layout!
— Daytona International Speedway (@DISupdates) July 30, 2020
Along with the new chicane, NASCAR unveiled the race will be run with the 2019 road course aero package, utilizing 750 horsepower and high downforce. Also announced were the race and stage lengths for all four races that will be run on the track.
ARCA will kick off the weekend with a 29-lap, 103-mile race on Friday afternoon, followed by a 52-lap, 188-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday. The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Series event will be comprised of 44-lap, 159-mile race on Sunday at Noon, with the Cup Series main event taking place at 3:00 pm Sunday afternoon.
The Cup Series race will be a 65-lap, 235-mile affair, with the first two stages lasting 15 laps each and the final stage running 35 laps to the completion of the race.
“NASCAR and its OEMs ran several simulations to determine the course layout and engine/aero package for the inaugural NASCAR race on the Daytona International Speedway road course,” said NASCAR’s John Probst, Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation. “Due to the predicted high speeds and loads on the braking system, NASCAR will add a chicane off oval Turn 4 at Daytona and move to a high downforce 750 hp aero/engine package for the NASCAR Cup Series race on Aug. 16. We believe this will combine vehicle performance and safety to provide the best possible road course race for our fans.”
Of the handful of drivers that have experience on the Daytona Road Course, the driver with the most recent knowledge of the track is Kyle Busch, who competed in the 2020 Rolex 24 for AIM Vasser Sullivan. The two-time Cup Series champion finished ninth in class after mechanical issues, but noted the vast difference in how his Lexus drove in January compared to how a Cup car will handle the layout next month.
“I’m looking forward to the DAYTONA Road Course race,” said Busch. “It’s something different for us. I obviously have experience there running in the Rolex 24 this year. It’s good that I am familiar with the course layout, but those cars I raced back in January are much different than our Cup cars, so the handling and feel will be much different this time around.”