- 20-Year-Old Becomes Fourth Female Pole Winner in Daytona International Speedway in History
- NASCAR On-Track for First Time in 2018 on Saturday, With Three Practices for Advance Auto Parts Clash
- ‘Speedweeks Premiere At DAYTONA’ Interactive Fan Event Set for Saturday Night
Natalie Decker won the pole Friday for the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire, becoming the fourth female pole winner in Daytona International Speedway history.
In addition to Danica Patrick’s spectacular breakthrough in winning the DAYTONA 500 pole in 2013, Erin Crocker captured the Lucas Oil 200 pole in 2007, while Patty Moise was the Lucas Oil 200 polesitter in 1989-90.
The Lucas Oil 200, set for Saturday at 4:45 p.m., is the season-opening race for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. It has its own rich history as an integral part of DIS’ Speedweeks. Past winners include some of biggest names in the history of stock racing such as Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Benny Parsons, Kyle Petty, Lennie Pond and Tim Richmond.
Decker, 20, is from Eagle River, Wisconsin. She turned a fast lap of 181.859 mph on the 2.5-mile tri-oval, in the No. 25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota.
“Oh my goodness, it was crazy … my spotter was talking to me the whole time, walking me through it,” Decker said. “There’s been so much learning [here]. I’m so thankful to be here. Last year we only ran seven races so we could run for rookie of the year [this year] So far, it’s a great start.”
Also Saturday, NASCAR competitors will be on-track for the first time this year with one practice session for Sunday’s 40th annual Advance Auto Parts Clash. The Clash is an all-star type event, with the exclusive field consisting of 2017 pole winners, former Clash champions, former DAYTONA 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2017 and drivers who qualified for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The Clash starting field will be determined Saturday night in a blind draw among crew chiefs whose drivers have qualified for the event. In addition, NASCAR competitors have two practices in preparation for DAYTONA 500 Qualifying By Kroger.
The Clash draw is part of the Speedweeks Premiere At DAYTONA event in the speedway infield’s UNOH Fanzone, following the Lucas Oil 200 from 6:30-8 p.m. The event features drivers and crew chiefs from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series involved in several interactive activities with fans. Activities include autograph sessions, participating in Facebook Live sessions in the infield media center and competing in the new 2018 Season Update for the video game NASCAR Heat 2 on the UNOH Fanzone’s main stage. In addition, young fans will assist crew chiefs in the Clash draw.
The top-flight list of drivers scheduled to participate in the activities include former DAYTONA 500 champions Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray and Newman, reigning Monster Energy Series champion Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon and 2017 Coca-Cola 400 champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Busch, the defending DAYTONA 500 champion, is also the 2004 Monster Energy Series champion.
Sunday will mark a return of an old-school Speedweeks tradition, as DAYTONA Qualifying Presented by Kroger and the Clash combine for an afternoon doubleheader. Qualifying starts at 12:15 p.m. (ET), with the Clash at 3 p.m.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is trying to win the DAYTONA 500 pole for the third consecutive year, which would tie a record shared by Fireball Roberts (1961-63), his father Bill Elliott (1985-87) and Ken Schrader (1988-90).
Tickets for the 55th annual Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire, the 40th annual Advance Auto Parts Clash, the 60th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Speedweeks events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.
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