Alex Bowman starts Daytona 500 from pole in No. 88 car

Daniel Hemric (21), Kyle Larson (42) and Justin Allgaier (7) lead the field to start the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The green flag is a few hours away for the Daytona 500.

Alex Bowman will start from the pole in the No. 88 Chevrolet that used to be driven by star Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is missing “The Great American Race” for the first time since 1999. Earnhardt will serve as grand marshal.

Other story lines to watch for the 60th running of NASCAR’s premier event:

—Danica Patrick makes her final NASCAR start. Patrick reunited with GoDaddy for a one-off event and will conclude her racing career at the Indianapolis 500 in May.

—It would be the youngest field (average age) in Daytona 500 history if not for 66-year-old Mark Thompson, a Vietnam veteran making his second career Cup Series start.

—Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. will become the first black driver since 1969 to start the Daytona 500. Wallace is driving the iconic No. 43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports.

—Defending race winner Kurt Busch is trying to become the first to win consecutive Daytona 500s since Sterling Marlin in 1995.