Feb 20 | Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson Win Budweiser Duel At Daytona Races; Field Set for DAYTONA 500

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The Budweiser Duel, consisting of two 150-mile (60 laps) qualifying races, established positions 3-32 for the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, with the top two qualifiers from last Sunday’s DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented by Kroger – three-time champion Jeff Gordon and two-time champion Johnson – already locked into the front row. Gordon and Johnson started from the pole in the respective Duel events.

Budweiser Duel

The Budweiser Duel At Daytona races Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway were separate events won in equally dominating fashion by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. 

The Budweiser Duel, consisting of two 150-mile (60 laps) qualifying races, established positions 3-32 for the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, with the top two qualifiers from last Sunday’s DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented by Kroger – three-time champion Jeff Gordon and two-time champion Johnson – already locked into the front row. Gordon and Johnson started from the pole in the respective Duel events.

Earnhardt, the defending DAYTONA 500 champion who will start third in “Great American Race,” started from the rear in the first Budweiser Duel event in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet because his original 10th-place qualifying effort was disallowed due to a height violation found in post-qualifying inspection. The charge to the front resulted in him leading the last 18 laps – and looking like a solid contender to repeat as champion. 

“We knew this car was really fast when we got on the track Sunday,” Earnhardt said. “This car seems to be quick no matter what situation it’s in; I felt like the car made the job a lot easier.” 

Gordon, despite his locked-in status, went for the win in the first race – and finished a strong second, 0.185 seconds behind Earnhardt, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. 

“I wish I could say this was an easy test but it wasn’t,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. “I ran three-wide [a lot].” 

In the second Budweiser Duel, Johnson – another Hendrick Motorsports star – also was dominant, leading 40 laps behind the wheel of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. Kyle Busch finished second and will start fourth in the DAYTONA 500.

“It’s huge [for Hendrick Motorsports] to have the week we have had with the front row being secured, the wins tonight, it has been a great start to Speedweeks,” Johnson said. 

Danica Patrick pulled off a late rally in the second Budweiser Duel, coming back from a spin on Lap 57 that damaged her No. 10 Chevrolet significantly. Getting late drafting help from teammate Kurt Busch, she finished 10th and made the DAYTONA 500 field. 

Starting positions 33-36 went to the four fastest drivers from the qualifying session who didn’t make the “big show” via qualifying or the Duel-race finishes. Those four: Aric Almirola, two-time champion Michael Waltrip, two-time champion Matt Kenseth and Johnny Sauter. 

Positions 37-42 are provisional spots based on 2014 car owner points, going to the highest-finishing six entries who didn’t qualify for the DAYTONA 500 via qualifying or the Budweiser Duel. Those six:

Former champion Trevor Bayne, Sam Hornish Jr., Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger, Casey Mears and Denny Hamlin. 

The 43rd and final spot went to Bobby Labonte – the most recent (2000) former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion in the field who hadn’t otherwise made the DAYTONA 500 field.

Tickets for the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 and all Budweiser Speedweeks 2015 events are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtag #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can 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 16 | Daytona International Speedway To Hold DAYTONA Rising “Open House” For Fans

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The “Open House” will take place between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and is free of charge. In addition to getting a preview of DAYTONA Rising, fans will also be able to witness two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions (2 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. – 3:55 p.m.).

Open House

Daytona International Speedway will hold a DAYTONA Rising “Open House” for the general public on Wednesday, Feb. 18, enabling race fans to locate their seats before next weekend’s events and personally preview the new seating sections and amenities. 

The “Open House” will take place between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and is free of charge. In addition to getting a preview of DAYTONA Rising, fans will also be able to witness two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice sessions (2 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. – 3:55 p.m.). 

Fans can enter the facility through Gate 18, 22 and 32 with parking available in the Turn 1 Plaza and on the backstretch. 

Earlier in the day, current DAYTONA 500 ticket holders will get an exclusive open house preview between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ryan Newman, A.J. Allmendinger and Clint Bowyer serving as special guests. 

Tickets for the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 and all Budweiser Speedweeks 2015 events are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. 

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtag #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can 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

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. Construction of DAYTONA Rising was recently cited as a primary source of expected growth in the Deltona, Fla., MSA as part of ManpowerGroup’s Employment Outlook Survey. 

Toyota and Florida Hospital are Founding Partners of DAYTONA Rising, joining the Speedway to help provide the very best experience for fans through more than 40,000 total square feet of engagement areas, branding rights for two of the injectors/entrances and two 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 15 | 201-MPH Lap Gives Jeff Gordon DAYTONA 500 Pole

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* DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger Produces Elite Front Row of Gordon-Johnson * Front Row Represents 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Titles, 5 DAYTONA 500 Victories

Jeff Gordon

Qualifying for the DAYTONA 500 this year was for the first time a group effort, but it produced a singular result on Sunday that immediately found a special place in the event’s hallowed history. 

When the DAYTONA 500 debut of NASCAR’s tournament-style “knockout” qualifying was complete, Jeff Gordon – starting his final fulltime NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and running his final DAYTONA 500 – emerged as the polesitter for next week’s (Sunday, Feb. 22) 57th running of the “Great American Race” at Daytona International Speedway. Gordon won the third and final round of qualifying with a fast lap of 201.293 mph. It’s the first 200-mph pole speed for the race since Bill Elliott rocketed to 210.364 in 1987.

Gordon, driving the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, assured himself a spot in the field as did the second-fastest (201.135) qualifier in the final round, two-time race champion Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet.

“This is definitely huge for many reasons,” Gordon said, starting with his team’s mastery of the knockout qualifying format that he called crazy, chaotic – and strategic. “And then you add in that it’s the DAYTONA 500 … the emotion of the announcement I made to start the season … this is my last DAYTONA 500. This is a very special day.” 

This is arguably the most elite front row in race history. Gordon and Johnson have 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships between them (Gordon four, Johnson six) and five DAYTONA 500 championships (Gordon three, Johnson two). 

The top two qualifiers are locked into the event and will start from the pole in the two 150-mile Budweiser Duel At Daytona races on Thursday night – Gordon in the first qualifying race, Johnson in the second. The Budweiser Duel races will establish positions 3-32 in the DAYTONA 500 starting grid. Positions 33-36 go to the four fastest drivers from qualifying who haven’t made the field via their Budweiser Duel efforts, which also secures Carl Edwards a starting spot. Since Edwards is making his debut with a new team at Joe Gibbs Racing, there are no 2014 car owner points to fall back on, the criteria to fill positions 37-42 for the DAYTONA 500. If Edwards hadn’t qualified well, he would’ve been forced to rely on his Budweiser Duel-race finish to make the field.  

Tickets for the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 and all Budweiser Speedweeks 2015 events are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. 

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtag #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can 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 15 | U. S. Women’s National Soccer Team Named Honorary Starter for the 57th Annual DAYTONA 500

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U. S. Women’s National Soccer Team Named Honorary Starter for the 57th Annual DAYTONA 500

Honorary Starters

Abby Wambach, Kelley O’Hara and Christie Rampone will represent the U. S. Women’s National Soccer Team as the Honorary Starters of the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. at Daytona International Speedway (TV – FOX, FOX Deportes; Radio – MRN Radio, SiriusXM).

In addition to serving as the Honorary Starters for the 200-lap, 500-mile race that kicks off the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the trio will also be introduced at the driver’s meeting and participate in pre-race ceremonies.

“We’re honored to welcome three members of the U.S. Women’s National Team as Honorary Starters for the DAYTONA 500,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We’re looking forward to have these phenomenal athletes wave the green flag on both ‘The Great American Race’ as well as the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.”

Beginning June 6, the U.S. WNT will be participating in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada (TV – FOX). The U.S. team, which is ranked second in the world in the most recent FIFA Women’s World Rankings, is a superpower in women’s soccer having won four Olympic Gold Medals and two FIFA Women’s World Cups. For more about the WNT, please visit ussoccer.com/womens-national-team.

Past DAYTONA 500 Honorary Starters include actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, NFL legend Ray Lewis and comedian Whoopi Goldberg.

Tickets for the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 and all Budweiser Speedweeks 2015 events are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtag #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can 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 14 | Matt Kenseth Wins Sprint Unlimited At Daytona

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Enfinger Takes Wins ARCA Racing Series Season-Opener For Second-Straight Year

Kenseth Wins

Two-time DAYTONA 500 champion is back in Gatorade Victory Lane. After a winless 2014 season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kenseth captured the 75-lap non-points Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway. 

“It was a great start for the week [leading up to the Feb. 22 DAYTONA 500],” Kenseth said. “Hopefully we can keep up the momentum for the rest of the week.” 

The Sprint Unlimited rolled off with 25 drivers, a high-profile mix of 2014 pole winners, former Sprint Unlimited winners and DAYTONA 500 pole winners who competed full time in 2014, Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers from 2014, plus several others who qualified based on final 2014 series championship standings. Quite different from the event’s 1979 debut, which featured nine drivers – 1978 pole winners only – racing for 20 laps. That one lasted 15 minutes and was won by Buddy Baker who, earlier that afternoon, had captured the pole for the DAYTONA 500. 

After a Lap 23 crash, however, 18 cars remained in contention in this 37th running of the event. The 14-car accident started when Greg Biffle’s Ford hit former DAYTONA 500 champion Jamie McMurray’s Chevrolet from behind, turning it sideways with the rear wheels briefly off the ground – directly into the path of the field. The race was red-flagged due to the clean-up required; that lasted 14 minutes, 42 seconds. When the race was restarted on Lap 30, two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr., seeking a third Sprint Unlimited victory, was the leader. 

A late dust-up took several more cars out of the mix, setting the stage for a four-lap dash to the finish. Kenseth, in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, outdueled the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet of Martin Truex on the final lap, with the help of some cagy blocking moves. Kenseth’s margin of victory: 0.219 seconds. Carl Edwards, in his debut run as Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, finished third in the No. 19 Arris Toyota. 

The 75-lap/187.5-mile race was divided into 25- and 50-lap segments. The first segment ended under caution after 2012 series champion Brad Keselowski crashed in the tri-oval, ruining his night.             

                           *      *      *      *      *

Grant Enfinger won the Lucas Oil 200 Presented By AutoZone – the season-opening race for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards – for the second straight year prior to the Sprint Unlimited, driving the No. 23 Alamo Rent A Car Chevrolet. Enfinger edged Daniel Suarez’s No. 15 Arris Toyota by a mere 0.140 seconds. It was a career milestone for Suarez, a 23-year-old driver from Monterrey, Mexico who is part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity initiative. Suarez is competing full-time this season for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. 

“This is an incredible feeling,” Enfinger said. “It was definitely a nail-biter from my seat.” 

Tickets for the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 and all Budweiser Speedweeks 2015 events are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. 

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtag #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can 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 13 | ARCA’s Thompson Becomes Oldest Pole Winner in DIS History

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Kurt Busch Tops 200 mph in Sprint Unlimited Practice; Menard Gets Pole Via Random Draw

Day 1 ARCA

What’s in a number?

For ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards veteran driver Mark Thompson, a history-making pole position. 

The number in question – 63 – is Thompson’s age, which made him the oldest pole winner in a major race at Daytona International Speedway, following Friday’s qualifying for the Lucas Oil 200 presented by AutoZone, set for today at DIS. Thompson won his first ARCA pole award in 17 years, with a fast lap of 187.336 mph during group qualifying in the 2.5-mile tri-oval.  

“Winning the pole at Daytona is a big deal,” said Thompson, driver of the No. 11 Phoenix Air-Ken Schrader Racing Toyota. “It’s special. There’s probably not another place I’d rather win the pole than here.” 

Thompson won three previous Menards Pole Awards in ARCA competition, all at Michigan International Speedway – two in 1996 and one in 1997.

Saturday’s race will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 4 p.m.

 

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Starting position for Saturday night’s (8:15 p.m. ET; FOX) Sprint Unlimited – the first 2015 event for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams – was determined by a random draw Friday by race fans and team’s respective crew chiefs. Paul Menard got the pole and will lead the 25-car field to the green flag in the No. 27 Peak/Menards Chevrolet. The Sprint Unlimited includes 2014 pole winners, former Sprint Unlimited winners and DAYTONA 500 pole winners who competed full time in 2014, and Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers from 2014.           

Friday night, two Sprint Unlimited practice sessions were held. The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, Kurt Busch, led the first session (200.749 mph); four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, starting his final season, led the second session (196.764). 

Tickets for the 57th annual DAYTONA 500 and all Budweiser Speedweeks 2015 events are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com. 

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtag #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can 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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