Feb 27 | NASCAR Drivers Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr. and USAF Thunderbirds Visit DAYTONA Rising

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During Budweiser Speedweeks, DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation project, had a couple of special visitors take hard-hat tours.

NASCAR Drivers Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. Visit DAYTONA Rising
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – During Budweiser Speedweeks, DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation project, had a couple of special visitors take hard-hat tours. 

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, visited the construction on Friday, Feb. 21.

On the morning of the 56th annual DAYTONA 500, the world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, who performed the flyover later in the day, toured the massive project. 

About DAYTONA Rising
DAYTONA Rising is a $400 million reimagining of an American icon – Daytona International Speedway. Five expanded and redesigned entrances, or “injectors,” will lead fans to a series of escalators and elevators, transporting them to three different concourse levels. Each level features spacious social areas, or “neighborhoods,” along the nearly mile-long frontstretch. At the conclusion of the redevelopment, Daytona International Speedway will have approximately 101,000 permanent, wider and more comfortable seats, twice as many restrooms and three times as many concession stands. In addition, the Speedway will feature over 60 luxury suites with track side views and a completely revamped hospitality experience for corporate guests.  

DAYTONA Rising: Reimagining an American Icon, expected to create 6,300 jobs, $300 million in labor income and over $80 million in tax revenue, will be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona and DAYTONA 500. DAYTONA Rising was recently cited as a key source of expected job growth in Volusia County as part of the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

Toyota recently became the first Founding Partner of DAYTONA Rising, joining the Speedway to help provide the very best experience for fans through over 20,000 square feet of engagement area, branding rights for the Toyota Injector and one of the new neighborhoods.

Barton Malow is serving as the design-builder for the project. In addition to DAYTONA Rising, Barton Malow has renovated the University of Michigan “Big House” and the Rose Bowl.

ROSSETTI, an award-winning architectural design and planning firm for the past 40 years, which headed the design for Ford Field NFL Stadium, University of Notre Dame Compton Family Ice Arena and five Major League Soccer Stadiums, is leading the master planning of the DAYTONA Rising site.

Race fans can follow the progress of the DAYTONA Rising project by visiting www.DAYTONARising.com and connecting with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  Also, fans can see the construction project up close by taking one of the daily tours available at the Speedway on non-event days throughout the year. Visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/tours or the Speedway Ticket and Tours Building for more information.

For tickets and more information on Daytona International Speedway events, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP. 

About Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway is the home of "The Great American Race" - the DAYTONA 500. Though the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup event garners most of the attention - as well as the largest audience in motorsports - the approximately 500-acre motorsports complex boasts the most diverse schedule of racing on the globe, thus earning it the title of "World Center of Racing." In addition to eight major weekends of racing activity, rarely a week goes by that the Speedway grounds are not used for events that include civic and social gatherings, car shows, photo shoots, production vehicle testing and police motorcycle training.

Feb 24 | Earnhardt Jr. Celebrates Second Career Daytona 500 Win With Busy Week of Media Activities

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Two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. is ready to tell the world the story of his epic victory in Sunday nightfs 56th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Daytona International Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Interview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. is ready to tell the world the story of his epic victory in Sunday night’s 56th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Daytona International Speedway.  Running on only one hour of sleep, Earnhardt Jr. embarked on his week-long whirlwind media tour Monday morning after installing his No. 88 National Guard Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet inside the Daytona International Speedway Ticket and Tours Building.  The car will be part of the Daytona International Speedway tours program and will be returned to the team at the 2015 DAYTONA 500, a tradition that has been in existence since 1996.  Earnhardt, crew chief Steve Letarte, team owner Rick Hendrick and the crew of the No. 88 car enjoyed a breakfast with the media and participated in interviews and pictures on Monday morning. 

“I was taking pictures and doing media until about 3 a.m.,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “The team was having most of the fun. When I got over there, they were out of spirits so we found some more and we just sat around and talked about how cool it was – just punching each other in the shoulder until about 4 a.m. and then I had to hang it up.”  During the Champion’s Breakfast, Speedway President Joie Chitwood presented all three DAYTONA 500 champions with their leather jackets, Hendrick with his Harley J. Earl DAYTONA 500 trophy and Letarte with the Cannonball Baker trophy. Chitwood and Earnhardt Jr. also unveiled the logo for next year’s 57th annual DAYTONA 500.  The Champion’s Breakfast isn’t the only obligation that comes with winning “The Great American Race.” Earnhardt Jr. will fly across America making stops in places such as New York City, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut and Los Angeles.

“I’m looking forward to it and I want to enjoy it,” said Earnhardt Jr., who will be appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday night. “We won a big race, we put a lot of effort into it and I’m going to make sure everybody hears about it.”  “This race is such a big deal,” said Letarte. “The whole thing felt pretty surreal. What races do you still celebrate the next day? You have a breakfast and keep getting trophies and jackets. I’m proud of the team we’ve assembled. They’re a great group of guys and deserve most of the credit. They built a great race car, Dale drove a great race and we’re excited.”

“That was a perfect race,” agreed Hendrick, who is enjoying his eighth DAYTONA 500 win as an owner. “That was a perfect race. Dale – I’ve never seen anybody drive a car (like that). He drove the wheels off the car every lap. Stevie called a perfect race, pit stops were perfect and TJ (Majors) did an unbelievable job up there spotting. I’m so proud.”

Earnhardt Jr. was asked to sum up the feeling of winning the DAYTONA 500 for a second time.

“This place just has a lot of great history,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It’s a great race track. You drive into it and you get a special feeling you don’t get anywhere else. As soon as you drive through the tunnel you know where you’re at. There are some great facilities and unique tracks and places we go that I have a lot of appreciation for, but nothing like Daytona.

“Once you win it, it’s like a color TV – once you watch color TV for the first time, you don’t want to go back to black and white. When I won it for the first time (in 2004), I just couldn’t wait to get back to Victory Lane.”

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter (@NASCAR) and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #NASCAR, #DAYTONA500 and #ROADTODAYTONA.  Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest news all season long.  Fans can also follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com

Feb 24 | Earnhardt Jr. Wins Second Career Daytona 500

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A decade after his first DAYTONA 500 victory, Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to Gatorade Victory Lane in a thrilling finish to the 56th annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.

            DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A decade after his first DAYTONA 500 victory, Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to Gatorade Victory Lane in a thrilling finish to the 56th annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.

            After being the runner-up three of the last four years in the DAYTONA 500, Earnhardt – who had not won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway since his Budweiser Duel and Sprint Unlimited wins during the 2008 Speedweeks – took the time to let it soak in with a long, reverse-lap drive down the frontstretch of the 2.5-mile tri-oval, showing his appreciation for the win and for the fans.

            “To win this race is the greatest feeling you can feel in this sport, aside from accepting the trophy for the championship,” said Earnhardt after climbing out of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet. “I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to feel this again and it feels just as good, if not better than the first (win) because of how hard we tried year after year after year, running second all of those years.

            “This race car was awesome. We showed them all night long what a good car we had,” continued Earnhardt, who led a race-high 54 of the 200 laps. “That (car) could do anything – we fought off battles after battles and we got a little help from Jeff (Gordon) at the end to get away on that restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I’ll never take this for granted because this doesn’t happen twice, let along once, so I’m thankful.”

            Coming in second was Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. After winning The Sprint Unlimited and his qualifying race in the Budweiser Duel, Hamlin hoped to become the first driver to ever win all three of the Sprint Cup Series races during Budweiser Speedweeks. Hamlin had a strong car and remained in the lead pack throughout the night despite being without radio communication for the majority of the race.

            “There’s a lot to be disappointed about, but there’s a lot to be happy about,” Hamlin said. “My radios weren’t working so I had to wing it those last 150 laps on my own. With not having a spotter there on that last (restart), I didn’t know whether to back up more. I was just trying not to wreck anyone, trying not to get in trouble, trying to spot all six corners by myself. Still a great run, but I am a little disappointed.

            “Any other year I probably would have been jumping up and down,” Hamlin said about his finish. “We can hardly finish these races, much less have a shot at a victory.”

            Being his own spotter was quite a feat for Hamlin in a race where the top drivers in the world showcased their talent racing two- and three-wide the entire race. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, the most in the season opener since 2011.

            Hendrick Motorsports had a strong showing and held the top-three spots with under 10 laps to go. Gordon ended up fourth and defending race and series champion Jimmie Johnson fifth. Chevrolet held five of top-10 positions and has won the DAYTONA 500 six of the last seven years.

            The 43-car field included nine former DAYTONA 500 champions and seven Rookie of the Year candidates. With a ninth-place finish, the highest-finishing rookie was Austin Dillon, who qualified the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet on the pole and led the first lap. The race marked the return of the No. 3 car to NASCAR Sprint Cup competition. Dillon was involved in multiple incidents during the race and admitted it was a learning experience.

            “It was a good run. I felt like we were a pinball out there a little bit,” Dillon said. “I learned a lot. Definitely the rookie stripes were out tonight, but somehow we ended up with a top 10.”

            The race was red flagged for 6 hours, 21 minutes and 40 seconds for rain and slowed seven times for 39 laps.

                  Pre-race festivities included a concert by reigning Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan. The world-renowned USAF Thunderbirds made their fifth appearance in “The Great American Race” performing the fly-over as singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc sang the National Anthem. Actor Chis Evans, of Marvel’s Captain America, gave the command for the drivers to start their engines and actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise waved the green flag to start the race.

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter (@NASCAR) and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #NASCAR.  Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long.  Fans can also follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.

Feb 22 | JR Motorsportsf Regan Smith Wins in Thrilling DRIVE4COPD300

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Smith Nips Keselowski By .013 seconds at Start/Finish Line

            DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Regan Smith got “redemption,” edging out Brad Keselowski by .013 seconds for the green-white-checkered win in Saturday’s DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway.  The margin of victory is the second-closest in NASCAR Nationwide Series history at Daytona.

            Smith’s average finish of 20th-place in his previous 28 starts at the “World Center of Racing” are not indicative of the way he has run on the storied 2.5-mile tri-oval. Smith displayed his superspeedway prowess, keeping the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at the front of the pack for 35 of the extended 121 laps.

            “This is Daytona – it’s tough to win here,” Smith said from Gatorade Victory Lane. “I thought we had it last year and it didn’t quite happen. I’m excited! I’m getting tongue-tied here.

            “(The win) means a lot – it’s Daytona. It’s a good start to the year. After last year, what happened at the start/finish line, I felt terrible. It’s a situation where you can’t change it. I wanted to see the checkered flag in a proper manner at Daytona and not in the middle of the wreck.”

            Mirroring their positions in the DRIVE4COPD 300 last season, Keselowski and Smith ran 1-2 as the laps dwindled down. In last year’s race, Smith was the one out front on the final lap. This year, it was Keselowski out front after taking over the lead with 10 laps to go. On the white-flag lap, Smith made a run on the outside through Turn 2 and the two cars raced side-by-side around the track. Smith received an assist from 2011 DAYTONA 500 champion Trevor Bayne, giving him the push he needed for the win.

            “At the beginning (of the race), I made a move to go three-wide thinking the top was going to work today like it normally does, and got hung up behind somebody,” Smith said. “It broke our momentum and we ended up in 40th before I even blinked. We had to work hard all day long to get our position back to get back to the front.

            “The 6 car certainly played a big part in us winning with Trevor back there bump drafting. He stuck with me and I don’t know how it would have worked out if he had tried to pull out and gone three-wide.”

            “We were able to push the 22 to the front,” said Bayne who finished third. “I was hoping somebody could figure out how to push me like that so we could get to the front, but it didn’t happen. The 7 (Smith) got in front of us and we pushed him to the lead and tried to go through the middle at the end to get the win, but at the end of the day, a third-place finish at Daytona is a really good day.”

             Five of the drivers in Saturday’s race participated in Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series contest and 10 drivers in the field will be participating in Sunday’s 56th annual DAYTONA 500. Kyle Busch, who is racing in all three series during Budweiser Speedweeks, darted from his fourth-place starting position to take the lead from pole sitter Dylan Kwasniewski on the first lap. Busch went on to lead a race-high 44 laps and finished fourth. Ty Dillon, brother of DAYTONA 500 pole-sitter Austin Dillon, was the highest-finishing rookie, driving the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet to home in seventh.

            Six drivers exchanged the lead nine times and the race was slowed five times for 20 laps.

Tickets for NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race – the 56th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 23 – start at $65 and are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

 

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter (@NASCAR) and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #NASCAR, #DAYTONA500 and #ROADTODAYTONA.  Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long.  Fans can also follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.

Feb 22 | Kyle Busch Wins First NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at DIS

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Kyle Busch Wins First NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at DIS. Busch Pulls Off Last-Lap Pass to Win NextEra Energy Resources 250.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kyle Busch finally made his way to Gatorade Victory Lane in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway, nipping Timothy Peters at the line by a race-record .016 seconds in another thrilling finish by the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Busch collected three second-place finishes in his five previous starts in the season opener for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. With the win, he becomes the first driver to win in four different series at the “World Center of Racing”. His win also extends Toyota’s dominance in the 100-lap, 250-mile race, giving them their eighth-straight victory.

Busch, who led four times for 25 laps, was in second place on the last lap, the spot where he exactly wanted to be. Exiting Turn 4, Busch made a run at Peters on the outside lane and they drag raced to the checkered flag for a photo finish.

“I didn’t know that I had enough to get it done,” Busch said. “Timothy (Peters) was really fast -- he could make that outside lane go.  He got up to the lead there and then pulled down in front of me and the outside was still trying to get going with the 32 (Ryan Truex), but Timothy was so fast leading the top that he could get to the lead and then he was so fast leading the bottom that he could pretty much keep those guys at bay behind us.

“Coming out of (Turn) 4 I just thought, ‘Hey, I’m by myself and the 98 (Johnny Sauter) is far enough back and I think if my truck is faster than his truck then I think I can suck up on him a little bit, pull out and then see if I couldn’t get alongside of him enough to pull him back with the side draft.’  Kind of do like an old school sling shot.  It didn’t really look like one, it just kind of looked like a slow motion sling shot at real speed, but it happened and got alongside of him and drug him back -- and then him and the 98 had to get nose-to-tail and we already had the momentum.”

Said Peters of the finish: “He had a good run on me coming off of (Turn 4). He’s Kyle Busch. I should have done a better job of backing up to him because I knew I had a strong truck. That’s the thing that stings; I got too far out.”

            Qualifying for Friday night’s race was canceled due to rain and the field was set according to their speeds in the final practice. Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., took the pole position in his first race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval and led the first 53 laps.

DRIVE4COPD 300 Qualifying: In the debut of the new group qualifying format, Turner Scott Motorsports swept the top three spots during qualifying for Saturday’s DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway, with rookie driver Dylan Kwasniewski landing the No. 31 Rockstar/FOE Chevrolet on the pole with a run of 192.07 mph, only .001 seconds faster than Kyle Larson and .011 seconds faster than Danica Patrick.

Kwasniewski is the first rookie to win the pole at the "World Center of Racing" in their NASCAR Nationwide Series debut since Rusty Wallace in 1985 and the first driver to qualify on the pole in their first race in the series since Scott Speed in 2009.

             “It is surreal to be here after winning the pole. For my first time at Daytona and getting a pole, it is an unexplainable feeling,” said Kwasniewski. "I was nervous the entire time. I was nervous before I went out. I was nervous while we were running and I was nervous after we ran a lap sitting there waiting to know where we were out. To be a part of this historical new qualifying format is crazy, for lack of a better word; I have no idea how to say what the feeling of this is.”

Tickets for NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race – the 56th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 23 – start at $65 and are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter (@NASCAR) and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #NASCAR, #DAYTONA500 and #ROADTODAYTONA.  Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long.  Fans can also follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com

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