NASCAR’s marquee event, the Daytona 500, will be held on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017 (2/26/2017) at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Chase Elliott holds the pole position in the 500-mile race, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts in the front row in the No. 2 spot. Daytona International Speedway.

Here’s what you need to know:

What: Daytona 500

Where: Daytona International Speedway

Course: 2.5-mile oval

When: Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017

Time: 2 p.m. Eastern

(Pre-race coverage begins at 1 p.m.)


Livestream: Fox Sports Go

Last year: Denny Hamlin won the closest Daytona 500, edging Martin Truex Jr. by one-hundredth of a second.

A battle between driver Danica Patrick and a sponsor has brought drama to the Daytona 500 practice week.

Nature’s Bakery filed its response to a $31 million breach of contract suit brought by Stewart-Haas Racing because the company severed its sponsorship with Patrick.

The counterclaim filed Friday in North Carolina Superior Court came a little more than a day before the season-opening Daytona 500. Patrick is to start 12th in Sunday’s race.

Nature’s Bakery contends Stewart-Haas Racing “could not control” Patrick and allowed her to endorse products that rivaled the fig bars and brownies sold by Nature’s Bakery. The company said it was spending $15 million a year and expected four times the return for sponsoring Patrick’s car.

Instead, SHR could not guarantee exclusivity in the on-the-go foods category because Patrick endorsed competitor Six Star Pro Nutrition.

The counterclaim alleges “it was as if Michael Jordan decided to wear Adidas while being paid by Nike.” Nature’s Bakery said the relationship was clearly not working six months into the contract, Stewart-Haas Racing took advantage of a young company with no NASCAR sponsorship experience, and SHR “did nothing other than collect Nature’s Bakery’s money.”

Nature’s Bakery said SHR promised to support the sponsorship but failed to provide significant value as part of the deal that was worth $15 million annually. SHR is seeking $31 million, plus damages.

“I haven’t had a chance to (read the response), and I won’t,” team co-owner and three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart said Saturday. “I’m focused 100 percent on what we’re doing down here this weekend. We’ve got a business group that will take care of that side of it, but while I’m in Daytona I’m worried about what happens with the Daytona 500.”

Patrick has defended her support of Nature’s Bakery and insisted she never promoted rival products. SHR said in its suit that Nature’s Bakery took issue with Patrick using Instagram to promote protein powders, home-made energy balls, a homemade spinach smoothie and other home-cooked meals, ranging from ice cream to grilled cheese.

SHR maintained Nature’s Bakery “liked” most of the Instagram posts, and Nature’s Bakery never complained about the posts until it began missing payments.

Connor Hughes may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Connor_J_Hughes. Find Jets on Facebook.

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