The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Daytona International Speedway on Aug. 28 for the regular-season finale. Multi-platinum country artist Chris Lane will help set the stage for the 160-lap event by performing a special pre-race concert.
The Daytona International Speedway issued a press release on Wednesday, July 21, confirming that Lane will take to the stage prior to the Coke Zero Sugar 400. He will perform some of his biggest hits in front of the fans in the grandstands and those that purchased tickets providing access to the VIP Pit Viewing area.
“We’ve waited a long time to be able to host fans for pre-race festivities,” said track president Frank Kelleher in a statement. “Our staff is ready to welcome fans back to our venue, and we can’t wait to see many of them inside on the ballfield for Chris’ concert as well as driver introductions. Couple those opportunities, as well as the pressure that’s on the line for drivers to make the playoffs, the energy and buzz is going to be at an all-time high for the Coke Zero Sugar 400.”
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will take place on Sunday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. ET. This race will serve as the final opportunity for bubble drivers to lock up a spot in the playoffs and continue pursuing the Bill France Cup championship trophy.
The Pre-Race Concert Continues a Return to Normalcy
NASCAR did not have pre-race festivities during the latter portion of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Fans could not attend the majority of races, so the organizations in charge of the various tracks did not bring in any big names to perform popular songs.
The 2021 season, on the other hand, has featured a partial return to normalcy. Multiple races have featured concerts to help set the stage for an afternoon of racing action. The Daytona 500 featured country star Luke Combs performing for the fans while wearing a special Dale Earnhardt jacket.
Another NASCAR star in Chris Janson joined in on the pre-race festivities in June when stock car racing returned to Middle Tennessee. The “Buy Me a Boat” singer took to the stage near the start-finish line of Nashville Superspeedway on June 20 and performed some of his biggest songs. He fired up the fans and then they watched Kyle Larson win another race.
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 Is the Final Opportunity for Some Drivers
When the Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway, several drivers will fight for a spot in the playoffs. There are some with previous wins at the track that have yet to reach Victory Lane in 2021, and they will try to use their experience to move back above the cut line.
Denny Hamlin, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, will likely not have to worry about winning to reach the playoffs. He is the current points leader and will remain above the cut line barring three new drivers winning the races that lead up to the regular-season finale.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Austin Dillon, and Erik Jones all sit in very different situations. The three drivers with previous wins at Daytona are all below the cut line and in need of a win to lock up a spot in the playoffs. Dillon is in the safest position considering that he only trails teammate Tyler Reddick by five points. Stenhouse is 21st in points while Jones is 25th.
Winning the regular-season finale to lock up a spot in the playoffs will not be easy for these bubble drivers, but there is a very recent example of a peer doing just that. William Byron entered the 2020 Coke Zero Sugar 400 winless and only four points ahead of the playoff cut line. He proceeded to avoid two massive wrecks during the final stretch — including one that brought out the red flag — and held off Chase Elliott to secure his first career win.
Similarly, Jones survived the wreck-filled 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400 and claimed his first career victory. He avoided all of the incidents and held off then-teammate Martin Truex Jr. during the second overtime. Jones only led one lap of the race, but it was the only one that mattered. However, Byron and Jones differ in that the 2018 race took place midway through the regular season.