Race day for the 2013 Daytona 500 has finally arrived. NASCAR fans have been waiting for the green flag to wave on the year's most prominent race ever since Brad Keselowski clinched the championship to end last season.
The annual racing spectacle always gets the NASCAR season off on the right foot. It's also one of the first real signs that winter is coming to an end, and there's no better place for that than Daytona Beach. It's truly a national event.
With that in mind, here's a look at all the important viewing information for Sunday's Great American Race, along with some storylines to watch during the 500-mile journey.
Where: Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
When: Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. ET
Top Stories to Watch
Danica Patrick's Run for History
Patrick already became the first woman to secure the Daytona 500 pole position. On Sunday, she'll look to become the first woman to win the biggest race in the sport and show her qualifying run wasn't simply a fluke.
There will be a lot of people watching the race to see how she performs. After playing it safe in her Budweiser Duel to ensure her lightning-quick car stayed out of trouble, she better be prepared for a long, grueling battle on Sunday.
She raced in the Sprint Cup Series 10 times last season and didn't finish better than 17th. So there's reason to be cautious about her chances of competing for the win, but there's no doubt about how good her car has been so far.
Transition to New Cars
One factor all 43 drivers in the field must deal with is NASCAR's new Generation 6 cars. They have gained some experience in practice and during the Budweiser Duels, but there's nothing to simulate what will happen on Sunday.
The drivers who adapt the quickest should give themselves a significant edge. Knowing how to handle the new car during the final laps of the race, when mere fractions of a second will decide the champion, is going to be crucial.
It will be interesting to see exactly how much the new generation of cars factors into the final story.
Will they have a major impact on the outcome or just become a footnote in the larger picture? Only time will tell.
Which Surprising Contenders Will Emerge?
Patrick is stealing the headlines.
The usual group of big names, including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, figure to be in contention. Yet there are always a few drivers who fly below the radar prior to the race before getting into contention on Sunday.
A couple names to watch are Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Casey Mears. Both drivers have strong cars and should be able to draft their way to the front at some point. Whether they have enough speed and drafting partners to stay up there will decide their fates.
In a field of 43, there are always going to be some overlooked names. For those drivers, the Daytona 500 is a chance to make sure they don't stay in that category for any long. With a win on Sunday they will go down in history.
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