DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—  Kurt Busch scored his first Daytona 500 victory due to the many of his fellow competitors losing fuel. This is Stewart-Haas Racings first win in a Ford. This is Busch’s first restrictor plate win since entering into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2001. Busch led the most important lap, the last lap.

 

"My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind. The more unpredictability that keeps unfolding at the Daytona 500, I predicted it. It just got crazy and wild and I am so proud of all the drivers at the end. We put on a show for a full fuel run and nobody took each other out and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there. All the hard work that Ford and SHR put into this -- this Ford Fusion is in Daytona’s victory lane,” said Busch in victory lane.

 

Ryan Blaney finished second, AJ Allmendinger finished third, Aric Almirola finished fourth, and Paul Menard rounded out the top-five.

 

At Daytona 500 Media Day on Wednesday, Busch stated, “It owns me.  It doesn’t owe me anything, it’s just owned me over the years.” Now, he will go down in history as a Daytona 500 champion.

 

Busch started the race from the eighth position. Busch was a darkhorse throughout much of the first stage. Busch and his Stewart-Haas teammates attempted to stay together throughout much of the race. Busch and his teammates were hitting pit road during the first segment at lap 32 when Corey LaJoie wrecked coming onto pit road. However, that did not effect their performance when the race restarted. Busch went back down pit road shortly after, and was quiet until the second stage. Kyle Busch won the first stage with Kevin Harvick in second, Blaney in third, Brad Keselowski in fourth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five at the end of the first stage.

 

The second stage was saw a six car pileup in turn three that brought out the red flag for 17 minutes. Busch was the silent sleeper in the second stage. When the field was going back to green, Busch joined his teammates to have the top-three positions while Ford had the top-seven. The end of the segment saw Joey Logano attempt to make a pass on Harvick in the tri-oval, but was unsuccessful. Harvick won the stage, Logano was second, Ku. Busch was third, Keselowski was fourth, and Danica Patrick rounded out the top-five.

 

The third stage was wild and crazy. The field began to get ansy. The caution flew four times during the stage. The day almost ended for Ku. Busch on lap 129. Jimmie Johnson spun going into the third turn with help from Jamie McMurray. The wreck left Busch as the lone survivor of the Stewart-Haas camp to contend for the win.  Despite the damage, Ku. Busch was able to contend with the leaders. As the race began to wind down, Ku. Busch and others were being told to conserve fuel. The field ran single file for numerous laps as drivers contended to save fuel. However, drivers began to drop out of the pack because they were running out of fuel. On the final lap, Ku. Busch was running second coming off of turn two chasing Kyle Larson. Larson ran out of fuel which allowed Ku. Busch to score the victory.

 

Despite not winning the Daytona 500 as a driver, Tony Stewart was ecstatic to win the race as an owner.

 

“It’s probably the most patient race I’ve watched Kurt Busch run. He definitely deserved that one for sure. I’m really proud of everybody . Great day for Ford Performance and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. I think this finally gets Gene Haas all the crown jewels. This is awesome, man.”

 

The race saw 37 lead changes among 18 different drivers. The race was slowed eight times for 40 laps by caution.

 

Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway. Coverage from Atlanta will be on FOX and Performance Racing Network on March. 5 beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—  With the sport’s marquee event set for tomorrow, NASCAR has stepped up its social media game for the 59th Daytona 500. NASCAR’s Digital Media team, lead by Scott Warfield, hopes to increase their footprint in 2017, beginning this weekend.

NASACR saw a huge increase in social media numbers in 2016 over 2015. NASCAR saw 4.3 billion social impressions in 2016; 287 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, 209 million social video views. NASCAR saw a social audience of 11.4 million people, up 15 percent from 2016. On raceday, NASCAR saw 12 million people reached on Facebook and 2 million Twitter users reached. 53 percent of NASCAR Facebook followers range from 13 to 24 years old with 66 percent on Twitter of the same demographic.

NASCAR hopes to increase that social footprint even more in 2017.

NASCAR has already begun their work in partnership with FOX through the “Daytona 500 Hour Countdown” campaign. This campaign showcases original Daytona 500 content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

NASCAR will use Snapchat and its Live Story feature for the first time in 2017 for the Daytona 500. Darrell Wallace Jr. will take over the “NASCAR” Snapchat bringing to dans the sights and sounds of Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR purchased Snapchat Spectacles to be used throughout the season. NASCAR will incorporate stop motion technology to be used for the entire 2017 season.

Earlier in the week, NASCAR and Twitter launched an emoji using the colorful, waving flags in the Daytona 500 logo. The emoji will be featured when users use the hashtag, #Daytona500.

Throughout the weekend, fans will be able to go behind-the-scenes with unique content across Facebook and Instagram.

During Daytona 500 Media Day, Facebook created a presence with Riki Rachtman using Facebook Live all day. Facebook dedicated a footprint within the Daytona 500 Club.

NASCAR also launched the 2017 “Ready. Set. Race” marketing campaign using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This spot will be aired on the FOX broadcast during Sunday’s race.

NASCAR will begin a new relationship with GIPHY. Fans will be able to obtain and use NASCAR reaction-focused GIF’s to use on their personal social media accounts. Fans can access this at giphy.com/nascar.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—   In an afternoon media availability with Toyota owners, Joe Gibbs was asked about the reports in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) concerning the issues within NASCAR Management. Coach Gibbs mentioned that he was interviewed for the article, but his quotes were not mentioned. 

 “I was interviewed for that article, and there wasn't one comment I made that was in that article, or there was no slant to anything in there,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs, as well as other owners on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level, believe that the sport is in  a great position, despite the reports. 

 “When I look at the sport, and I go back to 2006 when I ran the Super Bowl in Detroit.  We were lucky to have 70,000 seats and to think about every weekend we have better than a Super Bowl 38 times.  People need to take that into consideration, and then as you stack the media and the social media on top of that, I think the connection is amazing and with the disruption we’re gonna have now with these three different segments, certainly when we announce a sponsorship like Shell yesterday for seven years and you see Fed Ex, I think that there’s never been more competition on the race track.  I think what we have to do as a group, the people in this room, we have to take a little different look at this,” said Penske.

Gibbs and Penske both mentioned the long-term commitments that Shell and FedEx announced this week to help validate their claims.

“We announced FedEx the other day, a new extension for them, a long‑term extension. There's three other sponsors that we also did that with our race team alone. We saw Shell come in and make a huge decision with Roger,” said Gibbs “We also have two new sponsors coming in that we can't announce right now that will probably be announced within the month, okay.’

The Wall Street Journal interviewed numerous executives within the sport, but did not include any portion of their interviews.

“My personal opinion. I just kind of felt like this thing was already going in a direction, and it was like when I was asked questions, it was, we're headed one direction, I don't care what you say. Now, maybe that's not fair and I know that, but I felt it. I felt that. I felt it personally. And I take it because this is all my family, J.D., Coy, all of us, all we do is race every day,” said Gibbs

Speedway Digest has reached out to Tripp Mickle and Valerie Baurlein, writers of the article, but have declined comment. However, The Wall Street Journal has talked to other media outlets stating they stand by the fair and accurate reporting from Mickle and Baurelin. Daytona International Speedway officials have confirmed that WSJ does not have a presence at the speedway during the weekends marquee event, the Daytona 500. 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fl— When Monster Energy was announced as the title sponsor for NASCAR’s premier series, their sense of activation was going to be considered “fun” and different than what fans have seen before.

However, during one of the sports marquee weekends, Monster’s activation does not show that they are the title sponsor for one of the top motorsports entities in the United States.

Just last weekend, Monster Executives told SB Nation that they were taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

“We want to go into the season and learn as we go,” Mitch Covington, Monster’s Vice President of Sports Marketing, told SB Nation. “And I think you’ll see our presence build somewhat as the races go. Some races we’ll have more presence than others. We really just want to build it out first, (rather) than go all-in for the first weekend and the Clash.”

Over the past week, there was roughly nine posts mentioning “Daytona 500” or “NASCAR” on the Monster Energy Twitter page.

Compared to the opening weekend of Daytona Speedweeks for NASCAR, Monster’s activation has increased, but it is still lacking. Xfinity, who sponsors NASCAR’s number two series, has better activation compared to Monster.

Currently, Monster’s activation includes a social deck that showcases Monster girls and provides fans the opportunity to “sample” full cans of Monster’s products. On the social deck, there are video screens that showcase Monster’s other motorsports sponsorship. Outside of the social deck, Monster has a steel ball and rally cars for demostrations. The crowd at the Monster station was mainly filled with men.

Besides limited Monster Energy NASCAR Cup gear at the Fanatics tent, logos posted on the wall, logo in the grass, and a small section in the midway Monster’s activation is not that of other sponsors.

Monster has launched a microsite that provides content for the series.

However, the Xfinity activation showcased Xfinity products such as the X1 platform. Xfinity also had a spin to win game, virtual reality station that showed what it is like behind the wheel at Daytona, photo opportunity with a fan’s head and a fire suit. Xfinity even had a showcar to which fans can take pictures of. The people manning the station were engaging with customers asking if they had Xfinity or have tried out different products. The main demographic was a mixture of men and women.

HAMPTON, Ga.— Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) as announced that the Victory Lane celebration for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500 on March 5th will be moved to the fronstretch.

When the checkered flag waves, AMS will roll out a stage to the start-finish line to begin the celebration. Once the stage is set, all fans have the opportunity to walk down and join in the celebration.

Fans will be able to enter the racing surface through the entry gates along the catchfence.

To purchase tickets, call the AMS ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visitwww.atlantamotorspeedway.com.