NASCAR’s Soggy Daytona Weekend: What Happened and What It Means for 2024

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So here’s the headline news from the NASCAR Daytona 500, held Monday due to storms that dumped three inches of rain on the track on Saturday and Sunday. As you are likely aware, the season-opening Daytona 500 was postponed by one day, to be followed by Saturday’s rained-out the Xfinity series United Rentals 300, essentially creating the Daytona 800 for the fans willing to sit there from 4 p.m. to almost midnight, whether their seats were in the grandstand or at home in front of the television.

With temperatures dropping to 49 degrees by the end of the evening’s races, the grandstands were pretty empty by the last few laps. We’ll have to wait for the TV ratings to see if fans at home made it through all 800 miles of racing.

William Byron, the 26-year-old, under-the-radar driver of the #24 Chevrolet owned by Hendrick Motorsports, won his first Daytona 500. With six victories in 2023, he was the winningest driver of the season, but a major victory had eluded him until now.

Byron didn’t start racing until he was 15, perhaps 10 years later than other NASCAR drivers his age, who typically start out in karts shortly after they can walk. Byron began his racing career at the computer, on the iRacing game that allows you to compete against drivers all over the country who use the platform.

“I’m just a kid from racing on computers and winning the Daytona 500,” Byron said after the race. “I can’t believe it.” Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman was second, Christopher Bell was third. The complete results are here.

You’ll notice a lot of big names are far down that list, such as polesitter Joey Logano, finishing 32nd in the 40-car field, and 2023 Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who finished 31st, or 2023 NASCAR Cup champion Ryan Blaney, who came in 30th. Those drivers, and plenty more, were caught up in multiple crashes, including a 23-car pileup with nine laps to go. Victims of that one included three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, who finished 19th.

As soon as Byron’s victory celebration was completed, NASCAR pivoted to the Xfinity race, scheduled for 9 p.m. It took the green flag at 9:04. It was arguably a better race than the Daytona 500, and certainly wilder; it was also a crashfest, with Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Hill winning in his Chevrolet for the third straight year.

Hill, 29, will be running the full Xfinity season for Childress, who plans to put him in some select Cup races this year, and likely full-time in Cup in 2025. “I don’t even know what time it is,” a jubilant Hill said in Victory Lane. “I know it’s past my bedtime, but we’re about to party tonight.” Sheldon Creed came in second, Parker Retzlaff was third. The complete results are here. As with the Daytona 500, plenty of contenders fell out of the running due to wrecks, causing nine caution periods.

Five drivers raced in both the Daytona 500 and the United Rentals 300, with John Hunter Nemechek having the most to show for his long day: A seventh-place finish in the 500, and a matching seventh in the Xfinity race. Also (maybe) worth noting for fans of the Malcolm in the Middle television series: Star Frankie Muniz, in his first NASCAR Xfinity race, finished 35th after being caught up in a crash not of his making.

In all, it was an interesting if disjointed weekend. NASCAR controls virtually everything that goes on at its track, except the weather, and it has caused more shuffling of races so far in this very early season than typically happens in a full year. First the NASCAR Busch Light exhibition race, scheduled to be run Sunday, February 4, in the Los Angeles Coliseum, was moved to Saturday with very little notice because of storms that were headed to California. Not surprisingly, TV ratings were far worse than they were in 2022 and 2023 because a lot of fans didn’t get word of the move.

This year, only one of the weekend’s four races ran when it was originally scheduled to: the Daytona NASCAR Craftsman Truck race on Friday night. Saturday’s ARCA race was moved to Friday after the truck race due to the gloomy forecast. As predicted, Saturday was a washout, except for Xfinity qualifying. NASCAR gave up and called the Xfinity race when the rain resumed after qualifying. Sunday’s weather was even worse, with the Daytona 500 called at 9:30 Sunday morning.

Once the final TV ratings are in for this year’s two main Daytona races, they are expected to be a disappointment for NASCAR. (The least-watched Daytona 500 on record, according to, was in 2021, when the race was also delayed by rain.) Ratings are especially important to NASCAR given its new seven-year TV deal with Fox, NBC, TNT, and Amazon Prime, reportedly worth $7.75 billion, signed last November and due to start with the 2025 NASCAR season. Both NASCAR and the TV partners rely on advertising, which appears to be reasonably strong.

A racing website,, has tracked NASCAR broadcasts since 2018 and logged the television coverage for Monday’s Daytona 500. In 195 minutes, which is how long the actual race broadcast took, not including the opening ceremonies, there were 129 commercials, for a total time of 57 minutes. Fortunately for NASCAR, there were plenty of wrecks, plus the two made-for-TV “stages” that interrupt the races at set intervals, to get all the advertisers in.

NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 on February 19, 2024
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Exactly how the revenue from the new TV deal will be split among the teams has yet to be decided, and the lack of resolution resulted in a story by the Associated Press on Sunday that added another cloud over the weekend. The story said that NASCAR teams have hired Jeffrey Kessler, one of the country’s top anti-trust lawyers, to advise them “in their ongoing dispute with the family-owned stock car series over a new revenue-sharing model.”

“We want to make a deal, we are just looking for a fair deal,” Curtis Polk, a part owner of 23XI Racing and member of the teams’ negotiating committee, told the Associated Press. “There is no give and take. We’ve been told, ‘This is all there is; there is no flexibility.’ That’s not a negotiation.”

Kessler, according to AP, “most recently successfully represented Division I college football and basketball players in a landmark antitrust case that led to financial stipends for athletes. He also led the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team in its successful fight for equal pay as well as litigations for current free agency rules in the NBA and the NFL.”

NASCAR’s 15 chartered teams represent 36 cars and drivers in a typical race lineup of 40 cars. There was a meeting on Saturday, the AP reported, attended by high-powered team owners Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, Michael Jordan, and Roger Penske, to discuss revenue sharing and the charter system, which is set to expire at the end of this season.

NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The charter system is hard to explain, but here goes: At one time, the field for a NASCAR race was set purely by qualifying. If you weren’t fast enough, you didn’t race. But this meant that if top drivers like Dale Earnhardt or Jeff Gordon had a bad qualifying day, a great many fans of those drivers would be profoundly disappointed. So in 2016, NASCAR handed out charters to the teams that, over the previous three seasons, had participated in the most races. The charters guaranteed that their cars would be in the race regardless of qualifying. That meant fans would always see the stars race, and teams could court sponsors more easily, because the sponsored cars would never miss a race.

Here’s where it gets complicated: NASCAR allowed the teams to sell charters to other teams. A team with four cars, and four charters, might cut down to three cars and sell the fourth charter. Each year, it seemed, the value of a charter grew; one charter reportedly sold for $40 million late last year.

With charters set to expire at the end of 2024, teams are scrambling for answers from NASCAR on what sort of arrangements will be made for the future. So far, it appears that the sanctioning body has not been forthcoming. Add that to the TV revenue-sharing dispute, and it seems likely lawyers may be involved.

Stay tuned. This could get interesting as the season progresses. Which it does this weekend, with NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, and Craftsman Truck races scheduled at Atlanta Motor Speedway.




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