Steven B. Wilson

Steven B. Wilson

Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest

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

Race Winner: Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet) in overtime

Stage 1 Winner: Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

Started sixth, finished seventh, and collected four bonus points.

● The Jimmy John’s team surrendered the seventh position to pit road under caution on lap 52 for four tires and fuel.

● The No. 4 Ford restarted 13th with five laps remaining in the stage.

● Harvick narrowly avoided an accident at the conclusion of the stage to jump from 15th up to seventh.

The team came to pit road for four tires and fuel at the conclusion of Stage 1.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

Started third and finished 31st.

● Harvick raced in the top-five the majority of the stage.

● The Jimmy John’s team came to pit road from the fourth position for two tires, air pressure adjustments and fuel on lap 94.

● Harvick restarted fourth on lap 98 but was collected in a multicar incident on lap 102.

● The No. 4 car suffered heavy damage during the lap-102 incident, causing the team to make extensive repairs on pit road.

The team was unable to complete repairs on pit road and was forced to retire from the event on lap 105.

 

Notes:

● Harvick scored nine bonus points in Duel 2 and four points in Stage 1.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Only 10 of the 40 drivers in the Daytona 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 to score his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory and his first at Daytona. His margin of victory over runner-up Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr. was .26 of a second.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Your thoughts on the incident and the team’s effort to get the car back out? “They did a good job fixing the car. The car was fine. Apparently, you have to have the door. I thought it was just the door foam, but you’ve got to have some metal on the outside of the door. All in all, they did a good job fixing our Jimmy John’s/Busch Beer Ford. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two guys, I couldn’t tell. It looked to me like there was one too many blocks, and the blocking car wound up spinning out and the 2 car hit the 24 and wound up coming up the racetrack into me. It was like a can opener on the way by.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Folds of Honor 500 on Sunday, Feb. 25 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 1:30 p.m.

 

TSC PR

Race Winner:       Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet) in overtime

Stage 1 Winner:   Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:   Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

Started 10th, finished 26th.

● Bowyer reported his car was loose, so the crew made major handling changes during pit stops.

● Bowyer told his crew he was biding his time and that “the name of the game today” would be survival.

● He dodged a multicar accident on lap 60 without damage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

Started ninth, finished 27th.

● Raced in the top-10 for most of the stage.

● Told crew if he could stay patient until the end, he’d have a chance to win the race.

● Bowyer dodged a second multicar accident on lap 101, but seconds later he reported his engine had lost a cylinder.

● He lost two laps on pitlane as his crew attempted to make engine repairs.

● Bowyer returned to the track and made up one of the lost laps by using the wave-around during the next caution.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):

Started 25th, finished 15th.

● Stayed in the pack turning respectable lap times.

● Despite late cautions could not regain the lost lap, but persevered for respectable finish.

 

Notes:                   

● This was Bowyer’s seventh top-15 finish in the Daytona 500.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Only 10 of the 40 drivers in the Daytona 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Austin Dillon’s win in the Daytona 500 was his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory and his first at Daytona. His margin of victory over runner-up Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr. was .26 of a second.

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Our plan was working. A lot of cars we knew we had to beat were out of the race. We had hung back working on our handling and just waiting to the end of the race. I kept telling my guys to stay patient, there were going to be more wrecks. Sure enough that’s what happened, and we avoided any damage, but when I got on the brakes hard something happened, because we were now down a cylinder. We tried, but there was no way to fix it. We went back out there and were pretty decent, considering. Now we’ll focus on Atlanta.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Folds of Honor 500 on Sunday, Feb. 25 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 1:30 p.m.

 

TSC PR

Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) and D.J. Kennington recovered from an early accident to finish 24th in Sunday's Daytona 500.

Just after the first quarter of the race, Kennington was involved in a three-car accident in which his Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry sustained damage to its left front and left side. The GBR pit crew provided patchwork repair, though the quick fix didn't ameliorate the damage's effect on aerodynamic balance.

Fortunately, attrition was high during The Great American Race, as three more multi-car accidents throughout the day worked in the team's favor. Kennington completed 201 out of 207 laps -- the 500-mile event was extended due to a late-race accident -- to finish 24th among the 40-car field.

"We finished 24th in our second Daytona 500. It's a testament to all the guys on the Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry crew," said GBR owner Marty Gaunt. "We were caught in a wreck early in the race and were able to repair the car. A lot of cars that got wrecked were out for the duration and never got to complete all 500 miles. To finish 24th is a good day. Now we can go home, rebuild and get ready for our next speedway event."

Prior to the accident, Kennington, who became just the sixth Canadian to make multiple Daytona 500 starts, was happy with the handling condition of his Toyota Camry, a focus of the team following Thursday's qualifying race.

"We had a decent car. We could've raced with them, I think," said Kennington. "But we'll take it and run with it. We almost went the distance."

Gaunt Brothers Racing PR

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

Aric Almirola started Stage 1 in the 37th position and completed the season-opening stage in the 18th spot.

During the first caution of the race, Almirola had to make two pit stops after sliding his tires on the originally scheduled fuel-only pit stop.

At lap 50, during the second caution of the race, Almirola visited pit road for fuel, four tires and adjustments to the No. 10 Ford.
 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):

The Tampa, Florida, native began Stage 2 from the fifth spot and gained one position to end the stage in fourth.

The fourth caution of the race came out on lap 93, and Almirola visited pit road for service to his Ford Fusion. He received two right-side tires and fuel from the Smithfield pit crew and restarted 12th.

On lap 112 Almirola reached the third position, his highest-running spot to that point in the race, before ending Stage 2 in fourth.
 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-207):

The 33-year-old driver entered Stage 3 in the seventh position and completed it in 11th.

Before the start of the final stage, Almirola once again visited pit road for fuel and four tires.

Almirola made a scheduled green-flag stop on lap 170 from the 12th position for the pit crew to put on two right-side tires and fill his Smithfield Ford full of fuel.

With 10 laps to go Almirola was in the seventh position, and with five scheduled laps to go he was battling for the lead with teammate Kurt Busch.

The race was sent into overtime due to a late-race accident, and Almirola found himself in the second position for the final restart. He took the lead on lap 206, but Austin Dillon made contact with the No. 10’s bumper, turning Almirola into the wall on the final lap.
 

Notes:

● Almirola led the penultimate lap of the Daytona 500 before contact from the race-winning car of Dillon on the final lap sent the No. 10 out of the lead and into the wall.

● Almirola finished fourth in Stage 2 to earn seven bonus points.

● There were eight caution periods for a total of 37 laps.

● Only 10 of the 40 drivers in the Daytona 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Dillon’s win in the Daytona 500 was his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory and his first at Daytona. His margin of victory over runner-up Darrell (Bubba) Wallace Jr. was .26 of a second.
 

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“I’m so devastated. I thought I was going to win the Daytona 500. I’m just disappointed. I wanted to get Smithfield to victory lane, and I wanted to get Ford to victory lane. With this switch to Stewart-Haas Racing this year I couldn’t have thought of a better way to start off this relationship than with a trip to victory lane in the Daytona 500. I did everything I could. I just ended up in the infield care center. You know, the beauty is that there is always next week. We’ll go to Atlanta and try to win in our Smithfield Ford there.”
 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Folds of Honor 500 on Sunday, Feb. 25 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 1:30 p.m.

 

TSC PR

Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Dow Team Win the Daytona 500
 

 1st
 
 
 14th
 
 2nd
"I said my first win I couldn't beat it, but this does. The No. 3 Dow Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team are Daytona 500 Champions! My Grandfather has done everything for me and to win on the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt, Sr.'s win makes it all the more special. Everybody knows it. There is a lot of pressure on me to perform, but I like that pressure. It comes with driving the No. 3 car for Richard Childress Racing. There is a lot of pressure behind that. I'm willing to take that and go with it. I'm just thankful for all the people that support us along the way.  Thanks to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his family for letting us bring this number back. It comes full circle. I just can't thank the Lord enough for this opportunity. This one is for Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and all those Sr. fans.  I love you guys."
 
-Austin Dillon 
Ryan Newman Survives Late-Race Wreck to Finish Eighth with the No. 31 Bass Pro Shops / Cabela's Team
 

 8th
 
 
 13th
 
 11th
"Congratulations first of all to Austin (Dillon) and the No. 3 team. That is awesome for RCR and ECR and all of our partners. To get a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in Victory Lane right away, that was special as well. For the No. 31 Bass Pro Shops / Cabela's team, we just weren't in the right place at the right time and got caught up in a little bit of a mess, and that was it.  We just finished with a bunch of damage, but we still finished eighth."
 
-Ryan Newman

 

Martin Truex Jr. restarted second with seven laps remaining in the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 but the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota was quickly shuffled out of the top 10 and then caught up in a wreck with two laps remaining before limping across the finish line in 18th place.

Time spent on pit road from a punctured oil cooler, front-end damage and a flat right-rear tire put the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion two laps down to the leaders but he was able to return to competition and take the checkered flag in overtime.

“Not the day we were looking for,” said Truex. “We were in a good spot there, a really good position with under a few laps to go running under green and the caution came out and changed everything.”

The 11 championship points Truex earned for finishing fifth and sixth in the first two stages, respectively, placed the Furniture Row Racing team in 12th place in the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

Truex started 24th in the 60th running of The Great American Race and picked up 10 positions in the first seven laps. He cracked the top 10 seven laps later but was shuffled back to 25th place by Lap 32. He radioed crew chief Cole Pearn that the No. 78 Toyota was “drifting” and had “no grip.”

Adjustments made under caution on Lap 52 proved beneficial as Truex restarted seventh on Lap 56 and finished the first 60-lap stage in fifth place. The stage finished under caution due to a multicar crash that resulted in minor damage to the nose of the No. 78 car.

Another multicar crash on Lap 102 found Truex evading three separate incidents and was second when racing resumed on Lap 109. He shuffled throughout the top 10 for the balance of the second stage to finish sixth, earning five bonus championship points.

An issue with the jack and a penalty for an uncontrolled tire during service on Lap 123 left Truex in 14th place for the restart on lap 127. He moved to eighth on Lap 133 and remained there due to single-file racing for the next 13 laps.

A fuel-only stop under caution on Lap 171 put Truex third and he moved to second on Lap 174. Pearn again kept Truex out on the track during a caution on Lap 190 and he restarted there with seven laps remaining in the scheduled 200-lap race.

Truex quickly shuffled back in the field and decided to stay there as the frontrunners made contact with each other almost continuously over the next couple laps. Then, on Lap 199, Truex was unable to avoid another multicar incident and the resulting damage required extensive time on pit road during overtime which dropped him two laps to the leaders. He returned to finish the race during the green-white-checkered finish.

“It was our day for a while and then it wasn’t,” said Truex. “It’s just the way it goes. Superspeedway racing – a lot of it is out of your control. That last caution in hindsight, we probably should have gotten tires. Tried to come up from the back because we were sitting ducks upfront. I’d get back there but didn’t have the speed to get by them. It was just one of those deals where we needed it to stay green to be in a good spot. It just didn’t work out in the end.”

Austin Dillon became the second Daytona 500 winner to lead only the final lap, finishing 0.260-of-a-second ahead of Bubba Wallace. The balance of the top-10 finishers were, in order: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Chris Buescher, Paul Menard, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman, Michael McDowell, and AJ Allmendinger.

There were 24 lead changes among 14 drivers and eight cautions for 37 laps.

The second race of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season is the Feb. 25 Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

FRR 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