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A historic day for the DAYTONA 500 produced an emotion-filled result that will stand tall alongside the many other epic finishes that have built the tradition of “The Great American Race.”

Twenty years after Dale Earnhardt ended a career-long drought by winning the DAYTONA 500 in the famed No. 3 Chevrolet of Richard Childress, Austin Dillon – Childress’ grandson – returned the No. 3 to Gatorade Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway. And he did it with a last-lap, bump-and-run move that was absolutely Earnhardt-like, to boot – in the 60th running of the season-opening race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

A Lap 199 late-race incident took out a number of front-running contenders and forced two extra laps of “NASCAR Overtime.” On the first OT lap, Tampa native Aric Almirola (No. 10 Smithfield Ford) assumed the lead and as the final lap transpired, he appeared headed toward the victory.

As the lead pack approached Turn 3, Dillion – with a considerable aerodynamic push from the No. 43 Click n’ Close Chevrolet of Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. – made a run in his Dow-sponsored car for the front but was blocked by Almirola. Dillon kept going, tapping the rear bumper of Almirola, which sent the Ford into the wall. Dillon and Wallace continued on to the finish line, with Dillon winning by 0.260 seconds. Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota), the 2016 DAYTONA 500 champion, finished third.

“I did what I had to do,” Dillon said. “He was trying to block me and I just turned him. We had a run and I stayed in the gas. It’s so awesome to take the No. 3 car back to victory lane. This one is for Dale Earnhardt and all those Earnhardt fans. We’re going to keep kicking butt for the rest of the year.”

Wallace lived his own emotional experience Sunday. His presence was steeped in storylines. Series rookie … returning a Richard Petty Motorsports car to DAYTONA 500 contention ... first African-American in the DAYTONA 500 since Wendell Scott in 1969. And now, a runner-up in NASCAR’s biggest race. That is the best finish in the DAYTONA 500 by an African-American, besting the 13th-place finish by Scott in 1966. And there’s more to Wallace’s story: he got a surprise pre-race vote of confidence via a phone call from baseball hall of famer Hank Aaron.

“I have so many emotions going on right now,” Wallace said. “Thank you to ‘The King’ (Petty) for giving me this opportunity.”

Attrition was the name of this DAYTONA 500 game, with a series of incidents that took out high-profile contenders. As those drivers were dropping out with stunning regularity during the sun-splashed afternoon, Dillon hung around – and hung tough.

At day’s end, the 27-year-old who was a wide-eyed seven-year-old in Gatorade Victory Lane when Earnhardt won, had his own piece of DAYTONA 500 history.

And Richard Childress had a second, as far as the No. 3 is concerned.

“The emotions are just flowing,” a tearful Childress said. “This is just so special.”

The DAYTONA 500 was run in three stages over its 200-lap/500-mile distance on the 2.5-mile, high-banked DIS tri-oval. In NASCAR’s stage-racing format, valuable extra points that count in the season-long series championship battle are awarded to the top-10 finishers in each of the first two stages. The first two stages were each 60 laps while the third was 80 laps.

Defending DAYTONA 500 champion Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford) won the first stage which was bookended by significant developments. During the race’s first caution period, Hamlin was penalized one lap for pitting outside his box, giving him a hill to climb the rest of the day. On the stage’s final lap a nine-car backstretch incident ruined the hopes of several contenders including two-time race champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet). Also, former Monster Energy champion Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) crashed on Lap 51 in Turn 3, necessitating an extensive pit shop for repairs.

Stage 2 was won by Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Menards/Peak Ford), Blaney led 48 of the stage’s 60 laps, including the last 22 laps. He was among the drivers involved in the Lap 199 mishap, but rebounded to finish seventh.

Racing in NASCAR for the final time, Danica Patrick (No. 7 GoDaddy Chevrolet) started strongly but ended up 35th after her involvement in a dramatic Turn 3 crash on Lap 102. The accident started when Chase Elliott (No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet), one of the pre-race favorites, slammed into the Turn 4 wall after contact with Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Discount Tire Ford). The incident also ended the day for 2007 DAYTONA 500 champion Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford).

“It just wasn’t meant to be today,” Patrick said. “I’m grateful for everything … thank you to all the fans.”

Motorsports action resumes at Daytona International Speedway on March 10 with the Daytona Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. That event will open the 77th annual Bike Week At DAYTONA which also includes the DAYTONA TT on March 15 and the historic, 77th annual DAYTONA 200 on March 17.

Tickets for Bike Week at DAYTONA and other Daytona International Speedway 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.

DIS PR

It was another predictably wild and raucous Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon as the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season officially got underway. After untimely crashes knocked out a number of notable hopefuls early in the race, Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon eventually snared the win, closing out the season-opener and shifting the NASCAR focus to Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Weekend in Week 2 of the season Feb. 23-25.

If it weren’t evident before how important Playoff points are to drivers, especially early in the season, the chaotic final laps of each stage on Sunday night revealed exactly to what lengths drivers are willing to go to set themselves up for a shot at the 2018 post season. And that can only mean more of the same next week, when drivers will undoubtedly be pushing the limits in a crowded field of 40 cars to capture a favorable finish, all while battling the slippery, tire-devouring 21-year-old surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Those wild, end-of-stage frenzies spelled disaster for Stewart-Haas Racing newcomer Aric Almirola, who was leading on the final lap with victory in sight Sunday night until disaster struck with less than a mile to the checkered flag.

“My heart is broken,” said Almirola after the race. “I thought I was going to win the Daytona 500. I did everything I could, but unfortunately, I ended up in the infield care center. I’m definitely devastated, but the beauty of it is there’s always next week. We’ll go to Atlanta and try to go win there.”

For Dawsonville, Georgia native Chase Elliott, who saw his day come to an end after a wreck with several other drivers just past the halfway point of the race, it was a disappointing way to close out what began as a promising day. 

“I had such a fast Camaro ZL1 today, and I just wanted a shot there at the end. Tough circumstances,” said Elliott. “It was really aggressive all day, and I think the safest place to be is out front, and everybody wants to be there, that is the problem.”

For his part, the 22-year-old, who enters his third full-time season at the Cup Series level this year, did run near the front for most of his race and even led four laps before being caught up in a wreck. And despite the letdown of Sunday afternoon, he’s already looking ahead to the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his home track, in less than a week.

“Disappointing way to end the 500 this afternoon, but we will move on down the road and try to get ‘em in Atlanta.”

Fellow Hendrick Motorsports driver and seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson suffered a similar fate after leaving the race following a crash near the end of the race's first stage. He echoed Elliott’s sentiments about the surprising level of urgency so early in such a long race.

“There was some great racing throughout. But unfortunately, many thought it was the black and white checkered flag and not the green and white checkered flag (on lap 60),” Johnson said. “We will go to work and go to Atlanta next week.”

One thing Johnson can look forward to after the letdown in Daytona is his repeated success at Atlanta Motor Speedway. With five victories there over the course of his career, he’s the winningest active driver at Atlanta and has won two of the past three races there.

Alex Bowman, teammates of both Elliott and Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports, was already looking forward to the second race of the season even before the Daytona 500 got underway. He knows Atlanta will be the first true test to determine exactly where both drivers and engine manufactures will stack up as 2018 kicks in to high gear after tonight’s season-opener.

“I’m really excited, especially with the Camaro ZL1, to get to Atlanta, unload and see what we have,” Bowman said. “Speedway racing is its own beast and completely unlike anything else we do, so it doesn’t really give us a good judge of how we’re going to be for the rest of the year. When we unload off the truck in Atlanta, it’s a good idea how we’re going to be the remaining part of the year.”

With near record-setting temperatures in the forecast for the Atlanta area next weekend, the 2018 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is shaping up to be three days of incredible NASCAR action and a lasting memory-making experience for race fans arriving from across the country. 

For more information or purchase tickets today, call the AMS ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

AMS PR

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season officially dropped the green flag Sunday in Daytona. But 1,100 miles west of Daytona Beach, Fla., more than 300 RVs/campers and nearly 5,000 fans gathered in the Texas Motor Speedway infield for the "World's Largest" Daytona 500 Watching Party.
 
Fans began arriving at Texas Motor Speedway on Thursday, staging their RVs and campers to get the best spot for in front of "Big Hoss," the world's largest high-definition TV at 22,698 square feet.
 
 
"We made sure we were here early to enjoy the whole weekend and just camp out, grill and take it all in," said George Denman, a resident of Greenville, Texas. "I came to the first one of these last year and I'll be here for every one of them in the future. This is a wonderful thing that (TMS President) Eddie Gossage and the Speedway does for their fans."

In addition to the RVs and campers, a number of fans set up their tents for the weekend. All fans attending the completely free event weekend, were also given the chance for a ride-along in the Chevrolet Camaro pace car on track and to take part in campsite and tailgate area decoration competitions. Radio stations 95.9 The Ranch and Hank FM held promotions and live remotes from the track. There was also a special screening of the race and lunch for more than 100 members of The Speedway Club in the Grand Ballroom.
 
The "World's Largest" Daytona 500 Watching Party comes just seven weeks before racing returns to Texas Motor Speedway for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend April 6-8.
O'Reilly Auto Parts, which features more than 5,000 locations across the country, held a hospitality event Sunday for 2,700 of its commercial business partners. The event, held in the Cup Garage in the Texas Motor Speedway infield, featured a BBQ smoker and TV's for those wanting to watch the Daytona 500 inside rather than outside on "Big Hoss."
 
"I think it's terrific to see a title sponsor of our April race activate during a weekend like this with so many fans and prospective customers on property," Gossage said. "It makes me feel great to have a partner like O'Reilly on board to display the same kind of passion for racing with their partners as we do with our fans."
 
With Daytona 500 watching parties taking place throughout the nation in more than 20 states, the Texas Motor Speedway event is the largest. Many fans, like Karen McGwier, will stay an extra night before venturing back home. McGwier made the 5½-hour drive from Slaton, Texas, with her four children, six grandchildren, and husband Friday with plans to head back Monday.
 
"We wanted to come out last year, but we couldn't, so we weren't going to miss it this year," said McGwier, who had never been to Texas Motor Speedway prior to this weekend. "I mean, do you really want all these people in the house trying to watch the race on TV in your living room when you can come here and watch it on a TV like ('Big Hoss')? It's like you're in Daytona; it's just awesome."
 
Fans may purchase tickets for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 doubleheader, season tickets and camping to all of Texas Motor Speedway's race events by calling the speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com
 
TMS PR

Reserved stadium tickets for the historic 60th annual DAYTONA 500, the season-opening event for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, are sold out, Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile announced today. This is the third consecutive year that the DAYTONA 500 has sold out.

“Once again, race fans have shown their loyalty to ‘The Great American Race’ and we thank them for that,” Wile said. “Our fans recognize there is nothing like the experience of attending a DAYTONA 500 in the world’s only motorsports stadium. We will strive to make it a memorable day for each and every guest.”

Premium hospitality, infield admissions and UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race access still remain for the DAYTONA 500 and are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP as well as through PrimeSport.com, the official ticket exchange and travel package provider of Daytona International Speedway.

This year’s DAYTONA 500 will be attended by fans representing 49 different countries and every state in the U.S.

DIS PR

NASCAR and Axalta (NYSE: AXTA), announced today a multi-year agreement making Axalta, once again, the "Official Paint Partner of NASCAR."

"Our affiliation with NASCAR runs deep," said Charles Shaver, Chairman and CEO, Axalta. "We were the Official Finish for nearly 20 years before taking some time to strategically develop our program. Today, with this new agreement, we can grow our reach and leverage partnerships throughout the sport for business development opportunities with likeminded companies who need or use coatings. Motorsports represents all the things we see in ourselves; teamwork, high performance, a drive to be better, and winning!"

As part of the partnership, Axalta joins the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council®, bringing together an exclusive group of more than 50 Official NASCAR Partners to buy and sell products and services from one another. Axalta develops, manufactures and supplies coatings to nearly anything with wheels, along with thousands of industrial applications that exist throughout the world. Nearly anything that needs paint for protection, weatherability, durability or an enhanced appearance will have use for Axalta’s highly engineered products.

"Axalta is a category leader and we’re pleased to welcome them back to our diverse portfolio of Official Partners," said Daryl Wolfe, Chief Sales and Partnership Officer, NASCAR and ISC. "This new agreement is largely in place due to the strong return on investment Axalta receives in the sport. This partnership will further complement that integrated approach and drive business for years to come."

Axalta has a long tradition of excellence in NASCAR, dating back to 1992 when it sponsored a 21-year-old rookie from California, Jeff Gordon. In 2016, Axalta became the fifth Founding Partner at Daytona International Speedway’s (DIS) new motorsports stadium, receiving 32,000 square feet of branding and engagement opportunities in the Center Injector. Additionally, the brand serves as a primary sponsor with Hendrick Motorsports, a partnership that has been in place for more than a quarter century.

Axalta’s relationship with the sanctioning body dates to 1996, when it became an Official Partner, a partnership that spanned 17 years.           

NASCAR PR

Johnny Sauter won the NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, his third victory in the season-opening event for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Sauter, driving the No. 21 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet, emerged from a late-race battle among front-runners, taking the lead for good with eight laps remaining in the 100-lap/250-mile race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Sauter, whose previous victories in the event came in 2013 and ’16, outraced Justin Haley (No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet) and veteran Joe Nemechek (No. 87 D.A.B. Constructors Inc./Fleetwing Chevrolet) to the finish.

The race was run in three stages: 20, 20 and 60 laps. Pole winner David Gilliland (No. 4 Pedigree Toyota) won the first stage, with Sauter taking the second stage.

It was an emotional victory for Sauter’s team. The wife of his crew chief Joe Shear Jr., Chandra Shear, passed away in December.

“This is big … this is for Joe,” Sauter said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him to overcome something like that [and be here].

“This is the most unbelievable superspeedway truck I’ve ever driven. I felt like we executed flawlessly.”

There were two practice sessions on Friday for the 60th annual DAYTONA 500, set for Sunday at 3 p.m. (TV – FOX; Radio – MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Daniel Suarez (No. 19 Arris Toyota) led both sessions. In the first session, Suarez had a fast lap of 199.840 mph; in the second session, he posted a 203.179. Suarez will start 17th, on the inside of the ninth row, in the DAYTONA 500 – the season-opening event for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Pole winner Alex Bowman (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) and 2016 DAYTONA 500 champion Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) will lead the 40-car DAYTONA 500 field to the green on Sunday. The race is rich in storylines, starting with Bowman who has replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports. Bowman, 24, is part of an undeniable youth movement in the Monster Energy Series, a movement that includes drivers like 22-year-old Chase Elliott, 20-year-old William Byron and another 24-year-old, Ryan Blaney. Blaney and Elliott won Thursday night’s respective Can-Am Duel qualifying races and will make up the second row on Sunday.

Also Friday, there were a pair of practices for the PowerShares QQQ 300, which opens the NASCAR Xfinity Series season on Saturday. Rookie Tyler Reddick (No. 9 BurgerFi Chevrolet) led the first practice, at 196.190. Daniel Hemric (No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet) led the second, at 191.322. PowerShares QQQ 300 qualifying is set for 9:35 a.m. Saturday, with the race at 2:50 p.m. (TV – FS1; Radio – MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.)

Tickets for 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.

DIS PR

At the NASCAR Marketing & Communications Awards in Daytona Beach, Florida on Friday, Homestead-Miami Speedway Sr. Director of Communications Neal Gulkis was recognized for his efforts during the 2017 NASCAR season. Gulkis was awarded the Track PR Rep of the Year award for his work as a liaison between Homestead-Miami Speedway and the South Florida community, International Speedway Corporation (ISC) and NASCAR.

Gulkis joined the Homestead-Miami Speedway staff in 2014. He plays a pivotal role in the execution of a number of media-related events throughout the year. Gulkis is also representative of the track, and in 2017, became the public voice of Homestead-Miami Speedway following the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. As a part of the community, Gulkis facilitates the track’s relationship with the Jason Taylor Foundation’s Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network, which won the Institution Award at the 2018 NASCAR Diversity Awards in Daytona earlier this week. In addition, Gulkis supports many other ISC tracks and events as it pertains to public relations and communications.

“Neal has been instrumental in the growth and success of Homestead-Miami Speedway, and he is a major reason why our facility continues to receive the accolades that it does,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “Neal’s remarkable aptitude and experience as a PR Rep extends throughout many key areas of the industry, and this award is a true testament of that.”

Homestead-Miami Speedway PR

Three-time Atlanta winner, three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Darrell Waltrip will be officially inducted into the City of Hampton, Georgia’s Speedway Lane Hall of Fame in a ceremony at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 at downtown Hampton’s Depot Park, as the city, home to Atlanta Motor Speedway, honors the racing legend to kick off its 2018 NASCAR weekend.

Established in 2013, Hampton’s Speedway Lane Hall of Fame honors influential members of the NASCAR community with strong ties to Georgia and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Its current members include Fayetteville, Georgia’s Rex White, Dawsonville, Georgia’s Bill Elliott, six-time Atlanta winner Richard Petty, five-time Atlanta winner Jeff Gordon, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. chairman Bruton Smith and Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark.

Born in Franklin, Tennessee, Waltrip’s storied racing career began in 1972 and today is one of the most recognizable names in stock car racing history. In 29 years of racing and more than 800 starts at NASCAR’s top level, Waltrip racked up 84 wins, including the 1989 Daytona 500, 59 poles, 390 top-10 finishes and was a two-time Winston Cup Series most popular driver.

Currently, Waltrip serves as a color analyst for Fox Sports, alongside industry veterans Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon. In 56 career races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Waltrip notched 18 top-5s and 28 top-10 finishes and won once each in 1977, 1982 and 1989.

Following Waltrip’s induction ceremony, the 6th annual hauler parade will kick off beginning at 6:30 p.m., as Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series transporters cruise through downtown Hampton and back again prior to parking in Atlanta Motor Speedway’s infield for the weekend. The parade route will enter from Highway 20 and proceed northbound up East Main Street towards Highway 81 before retracing its route back through Hampton. It will then enter AMS property via Gate G and roll down the perimeter road past the unreserved campground, Legends Premium Camping, the Blue Parking Lot, the AMS Fan Zone and the family camping areas for fans on property to enjoy.

Fans of all ages are invited to attend the parade and experience the charm of downtown Hampton in celebration of the arrival of Atlanta’s annual NASCAR weekend. Hampton is easily accessible from Interstate 75 via Highway 19/41 by taking Exit 235 or via Highway 20 by taking Exit 218.

The Atlanta NASCAR Weekend features Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Friday, Feb. 23, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Rinnai 250 and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Active Pest Control 200 Benefiting Children's Healthcare of Atlanta doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 24, and culminates with the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 25.

For more information or purchase tickets today, call the AMS ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

AMS PR

Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott won the two Can-Am Duel races Thursday  night at Daytona International Speedway, securing second-row starting positions for Sunday’s 60th annual DAYTONA 500 (TV – FOX; Radio – MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the season-opening race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Blaney (No. 12 Menards/Peak Ford) will start third while Elliott (No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet) will roll off fourth. The two drivers embody the current youth movement in the Monster Energy Series.

The Can-Am Duel, two 150-mile/60-lap races, established starting positions 3-40 for the DAYTONA 500; the first race awarded odd-number positions while the second set even-number positions. The front row was “locked in” on Feb. 11 with DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger, with Alex Bowman (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) and Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) qualifying 1-2. Bowman finished 14th in the first Duel race with Hamlin finishing ninth in the second.

Blaney was followed to the finish in the first race by his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford), the 2015 DAYTONA 500 champion.

“Our car was so fast,” Blaney said. “I thought we (Penske cars) were really able to control the whole race.”

Elliott – the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott – was the DAYTONA 500 polesitter in 2016 and ’17. Thursday, he led the last 33 laps of the second Can-Am Duel race.

“We brought a lot of steam tonight,” Elliott said. “We are excited to get to Sunday.  We have the big one on Sunday … that is the main thing."

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., driving the No. 43 Click n’ Close Chevrolet fielded by Richard Petty Motorsports, finished third in the first Can-Am Duel race. That earned a seventh-place start for the DAYTONA 500 – the first time a Petty car will start “The Great American Race” in the top 10 since 2006. Wallace is making a lot of history this Speedweeks; he’ll be the first African-American driver in the DAYTONA 500 since Wendell Scott in 1969.

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet), a two-time DAYTONA 500 champion and seven-time Monster Energy Series champion, wrecked on Lap 9 of the first Can-Am Duel race, collecting the car driven by Aric Almirola (No. 10  Smithfield Ford). Neither could continue after the incident; as a result, Johnson will start the DAYTONA 500 in 35th position.

Danica Patrick, racing in the DAYTONA 500 for the final time on Sunday, finished 14th in the second Duel race. She’ll start the DAYTONA 500 in 28th position.

Also Thursday, there were three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practices, in advance of Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250. Grant Enfinger (No. 98 Champion Power Equipment/Curb Records Ford) led the first session with a fast lap of 192.033 mph; the second session was led by Ben Rhodes (No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions/Ride TV Ford) at 192.897; the final practice was led by former series champion Johnny Sauter (No. 21 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet) at 182.197. Teams used race-day set-ups in the final practice, as opposed to qualifying set-ups.

Qualifying for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 is set for Friday at 4:30 p.m., with the race at 7:30 p.m. (TV – FS1; Radio – MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.)

Tickets for 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.

DIS PR

Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been chosen as the recipient of the 2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Track Award.

The award is being given in recognition of the track’s demonstrated support of programming to engage with a multicultural fan base and identifying and activating programming with staff backing and track assets. LVMS representatives received the award at the 11th Annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday morning.

“This is a highly prestigious honor, and we are humbled to be selected by NASCAR to receive the Drive for Diversity Track Award,” LVMS President Chris Powell said. “Through specific marketing and outreach initiatives, we’ve made great strides toward expanding our reach throughout the Latino community. We’re committed to continuing this effort and maintaining an integral presence in all areas of our diverse fan base, and we’re excited about 2018 and beyond.”

LVMS has embraced the Hispanic community through its marketing efforts through involvement with Latino business chambers and participation in Hispanic cultural events. The track has formed a strategic alliance with NASCAR’s Hispanic marketing department and Hispanic influencers who attend races and share their experiences with their followers.

In addition, LVMS also has activated outreach initiatives with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Daniel Suarez and has noticed an increase in purchases in Hispanic areas, as well as a more diverse audience at its events.

LVMS’ first tripleheader of the year begins on Friday, March 2, with Stratosphere Qualifying and the Stratosphere 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, continues with the Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, March 3, and concludes with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube on Sunday, March 4.

Various ticket packages, fun extras and special-access passes for LVMS’ first NASCAR weekend of the year are available at www.lvms.com or by calling 1-800-644-4444.

LVMS PR

A trio of the greatest crew chiefs to ever turn a wrench in NASCAR competition will be the featured guests during the Speedway Children's Charities Annual Dinner presented by Tele-Optics on Thursday, April 12 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Tickets are on-sale for the dinner, which will feature NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Ray Evernham, Fox Sports broadcaster Larry McReynolds and Fox Sports commentator Jeff Hammond. The evening, which will begin with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. and end with a live auction, is one of the largest fundraisers for the Bristol Chapter of SCC. The SCC Annual Dinner will be held on the third floor of the O. Bruton Smith Building outside Turn 2.

“Our Annual Dinner helps raise funds for children in need,” said Claudia Byrd, executive director of the Bristol Chapter of SCC. “We’re so pleased that Ray, Larry and Jeff are joining us on this special night. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our dinner and live auction as we strive to make a difference for the less fortunate youth in this region.”

Evernham, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year, is a three-time championship winning crew chief and the leader of the famed “Rainbow Warriors” pit crew. As crew chief, Evernham guided Jeff Gordon to championships in 1995, 1997 and 1999. The duo of Evernham and Gordon won 47 races, including four at The Last Great Colosseum.

Following his stint with Hendrick Motorsports, Evernham left to form his own team, Evernham Motorsports. Helping to reintroduce Dodge to the sport, Evernham fielded the No. 9 of Bill Elliott and the No. 19 of Jeremy Mayfield to much success.

The evolution of the pit stop is perhaps Evernham’s greatest accomplishment. The New Jersey native revolutionized the modern day pit stop, recruiting former athletes to work in tandem for the fastest pit stop possible. In a way, the pit stop became poetry in motion and the “Rainbow Warriors” were the Picasso of the day.

McReynolds, also highly regarded as one of the sport’s most successful crew chiefs, is currently the in-race analyst for Fox Sports’ NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series broadcasts. The Alabama native amassed 23 Cup wins as a crew chief and is best known for leading Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt Sr. to their only Daytona 500 victories (1992 and 1998 respectively).

Following his successful career in the garage, McReynolds joined Fox Sports in 2001 in the booth with Mike Joy and three-time MENCS champ Darrell Waltrip. In addition to his in-race analyst role, McReynolds also serves as an analyst for FS1’s NASCAR Race Day pre-race show and the daily NASCAR Race Hub program.  

Hammond got his start in NASCAR as a pit crew member, serving as jack man for Cale Yarborough’s three championships as well as Darrell Waltrip’s 1981 title. In 1982, Hammond rose to the role of crew chief for Waltrip, leading the NASCAR icon to championships in 1982 and 1985. The duo won 43 races together, including the 1989 Daytona 500. The combination of Hammond and Waltrip was especially deadly at Bristol with seven races won together, including five-in-a-row from 1982 to 1984.

Hammond retired as a crew chief following the 2000 season. He joined Fox in 2001, serving as an analyst for Fox’s then pre-race show, Fox NASCAR Sunday. In 2014, Hammond became a pit reporter, becoming the first former crew chief to cover pit road for NASCAR on network television. He currently serves as an analyst for NASCAR Race Hub and NASCAR Race Day. He can also be seen on NASCAR Race Day- NCWTS.

Those interested in reserving a spot at the SCC Annual Dinner can call Betsy Holleman at 423-989-6975 to reserve their spot.

Tickets are still available for the Food City 500 weekend by visiting BristolTix.com or calling (855) 580-5525. Tickets for the Food City 500 start at just $50 for adults and $10 for youth (12 and under). A two-day package, which includes admission to the XFINITY Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300/K&N Series Zombie Auto 150 doubleheader and the Food City 500 begins at $80 for adults and $10 for youth (12 and under).

Bristol SCC PR