February 14 has a special meaning for everyone. Some people associate the day with love and romance. Others associate it with the need to find companionship. Others still know that the coming of Cupid signifies the most important season of the year: NASCAR season!
On Saturday, February 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, 25 drivers and crews will take to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway for for the Sprint Unlimited. NASCAR expanded the field of drivers based on new eligibility requirements to compete in the 2015 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway. The 75-lap, non-points race will once again kick off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing season.
A minimum of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers are eligible to participate in the Sprint Unlimited at DIS. In addition to the 2014 Coors Light Pole Award winners, the field also will include 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup participants, as well as former Sprint Unlimited race winners and Daytona 500 pole winners who competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full time in 2014.
When the 2015 season opens at DIS this week, Jamie McMurray will have his first on-track experience working with new crew chief Matt McCall. With the elimination of off-season testing in 2015, the duo has not had an opportunity to work together at the race track. McMurray will make his ninth start in Sprint Unlimited at DIS driving the No. 1 McDonald’s Chevy SS. In his previous eight starts, McMurray has a best start of second in 2014 and a best finish of second two times (2009 and 2011).
Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited will be the first race experience for the new pairing. McCall has somewhat of an advantage on some NSCS crew chiefs, not only does McCall have extensive knowledge about the mechanics of a race car, he also has considerable experience driving race cars. McCall has competed extensively in late model stock cars and is a former driver in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as well as a former champion of the World Karting Association dirt series.
McMurray makes the return trip to Florida this weekend after capturing a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona last month, along with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) teammates Kyle Larson, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon. With the win, McMurray etched his name in the record-books alongside racing legends Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt as only the third driver to win both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Daytona 500. In addition to those historical wins, McMurray stands alone as the only driver to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 (July NSCS race) at the “World Center of Racing”.
After one of the most impressive NSCS rookie seasons in recent history, Kyle Larson will race for the first time without the yellow rookie stripe in this weekend’s Sprint Unlimited. Larson, who finished runner-up three times last season in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS, earned his spot in the Sprint Unlimited field by winning the Coors Light Pole Award at Pocono Raceway during NASCAR’s second trip to the Tricky Triangle. Larson also started on the pole during the first stop at Richmond International Raceway after qualifying was rained out and the field was set based on times from the first practice, during which Larson posted the fastest lap.
Larson, who is not one to sit idle for long, chose to relax in the offseason by racing. Larson got behind the wheel of a winged sprint car at the Inaugural Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown in Arizona, raced a midget car at Turkey Night in Southern California and the Chili Bowl, and joined with CGRFS teammates Jamie McMurray, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Larson won races in each car in which he competed, and capped off a busy offseason by helping the CGRFS No. 02 entry take the overall win in the Rolex 24.
Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 25 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners the sport has anywhere in the world. Today his teams include four cars in the IndyCar Series, two cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and one Prototype in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Overall his teams have 17 championships and over 160 victories, including four Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400 and six Rolex 24 At Daytonas and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis and Brownsburg, Ind. and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Penn.
If you have made it to the race only to find out you’ve forgotten to pack a few necessities, there’s no need to worry. For all your last minute needs and forgotten items, Target has all the essentials and more. The nearest Target is located at 2380 W International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Fla. 32114 and can be reached at (386) 257-4778. Call ahead and make sure they have what you need.