In the ultimate display of brotherly love, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series superstar Brad Keselowski pushed his unsung older brother Brian Keselowski right into Sunday’s Daytona 500.
The two brothers from Rochester Hills, Mich., hooked up and sliced through the field during the second of two Gatorade Duel qualifying transfer races Thursday at Daytona International Speedway to secure spots in the Great American Race. Brian finished the qualifying race fifth; Brad finished seventh.
“I didn’t breathe for the last 15 laps. I don’t know if I’m going to breathe for the next three days. But it doesn’t matter, we’re in the (Daytona 500),” Brian Keselowski said after the race.
Sunday’s race will be the Sprint Cup debut for Brian Keselowski, 29. He’ll start the race 12th. Brad, the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, will start 16th.
By most standards, the chances of Brian Keselowski making the 43-car field for the Daytona 500 were slim. He had the slowest car after qualifications on Sunday and would be forced to earn one of only two transfer spots during the second of the Duel races.
His is an unsponsored, family owned 2006 Dodge competing against the likes of mega-funded super teams like Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. Brian’s dad Bob Keselowski, a former ARCA champions, owns the car.
The new racing surface and car setups at Daytona all but force a two-car draft so what’s a driver for a single-car team like Brian Keselowski to do?
Luckily everyone cheers for the underdog – especially a younger brother like NASCAR sensation Brad Keselowski.
And Brad, 27, needed a little help, too. A spin early on left him in the back of the pack so he hooked his legendary No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge to Brian’s rear bumper in the hopes of catching the leaders.
“I said, ‘Heck, I’ve got a great guy to work with back here after the spin and at least I know that he’s not going to dump me,’” Brad Keselowski said. “The next thing you know we’re running fourth, fifth and then second. I put the pedal to the floor and kept on pushing. I restarted on that last restart ninth or 10th, drove up there to sixth or seventh and just kind of stalled out. It’s a great feeling.”
Brian Keselowski cried after the race. The first to the car to congratulate him was Brad.
“He’s got to be the best pusher out here. He’s got to be,” Brian Keselowski said of Brad. “To watch him push everybody for the past two or three years, and then push me into this thing. This dog would not hunt all weekend long and then to push me into the race, I don’t know what they got under that hood but it’s awesome.”
“I can’t say that I’ve always been there every step of the way. But I think I was there today,” Brad Keselowski added. “I’m going to ask Roger (Penske) if he can help him with a motor on Sunday. Hopefully we can work together on Sunday, too.”
Jeff Burton won the race. Earlier in the day Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski’s teammate, won the first of the two Gatorade Duels. The duels are the qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500.
Five drivers, Casey Mears, Todd Bodine, Derrike Cope, Michael McDowell and Kevin Conway, failed to make the field. Cope won the Daytona 500 in 1990; Mears finished second to Jimmie Johnson in 2006.
The Daytona 500 is at 1 p.m. on FOX. Coverage throughout the day will be on FOX, SPEED and ESPN. Check local listings.
Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is the Great Escape, a venerable NASCAR national park where fans can get away and enjoy the very best in racing and camaraderie. It’s the love of racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike.
Keep up with Michigan International Speedway via Twitter @MISpeedway, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MISpeedway or by SMS by texting MISCLUB to 69050. Standard text message rates may apply.
MIS’ Value Pricing ends on February 28. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tickets for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 on June 19 and NSCS 400 on August 21 are as low as $25. Visit MISpeedway.com or call the MIS ticket hotline at 800-354-1010 today to take advantage of great pricing for 2011 events at MIS.
On behalf of Drive to End Hunger, AARP and AARP Foundation’s nationwide initiative to end hunger among older Americans, four-time Sprint Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon and Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III today announced that Daytona International Speedway will donate extra food items from the 53rd annual Daytona 500 to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
The donation is expected to include breads, produce and other food items and will be delivered on Monday with help from Americrown, the catering and concessions subsidiary of parent company International Speedway Corporation. The announcement comes as Drive to End Hunger celebrates its first race as primary sponsor Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet.
“This donation is a great opportunity to help people who are struggling in the Daytona Beach area and build momentum for Drive to End Hunger as we take the 24 car around the country this season,” Gordon said. “Six million people over 60 in this country are hungry, but with the help of the sport’s dedicated fans, tracks and partners, we can make a real difference in the communities we visit each week.”
“We are pleased to join Drive to End Hunger in helping make a difference for people right here in our community,” Chitwood said. “More than 20 percent of Floridians reported not having enough money to buy food in the last year. Particularly in these economic times, we want to do everything we can to support Second Harvest, which is an important resource for people of all ages who are struggling to put food on the table.”
Drive to End Hunger is a national effort that also includes volunteer-led food drives across the country; individual and corporate giving campaigns; local outreach to enroll seniors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); an innovative local grants program and research into the causes and consequences of hunger.
Working nationally with Feeding America, during Speedweeks, Drive to End Hunger is leading a food drive effort at 65 Winn-Dixie stores across central Florida. As part of the effort, this morning AARP Foundation announced a $10,000 contribution directly to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
“We see too many people in central Florida forced to choose between paying their bills and putting food on their table,” said Dave Krepcho, president & CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “Jeff, the Speedway and Drive to End Hunger are making a real difference this week for seniors and people of all ages around Daytona.”
UnitedHealthgroup and Chase Card Services are proud sponsors of Drive to End Hunger.
As the sun set at Daytona International Speedway Thursday evening, Trevor Bayne and one of his car owners, Eddie Wood, stood in the garage, discussing the just-completed Gatorade Duel and watching as their crew worked to repair the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, damaged on a last-lap crash.
But instead of frets and frowns over a wrecked car, there were smiles all around. In just his second official run in a Sprint Cup car and his first at Daytona in NASCAR’s elite Sprint Cup Series, Bayne had given the No. 21 a ride reminiscent of the days when Hall of Famer David Pearson was at the wheel.
Bayne drafted all day with Jeff Gordon, who sought him out for a partner. The pair raced at the front of the pack throughout the race but wrecked coming to the checkered flag, spoiling what could have been a spectacular finish.
But as Wood pointed out, the car is repairable, and Bayne had established himself as a driver to be reckoned with – and worked with – in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“This is cool, ain’t it?” Bayne said, with a big smile on his face.
Wood agreed, saying it indeed was cool to see his family’s iconic race car back in contention for a Cup victory, even if it was in a non-points qualifying race.
“It feels really good to be a factor,” Wood said. “I hate it that we got torn up at the end, but we were a factor for the whole race, and we’ll fix this car and be ready for Sunday.”
Bayne seemed most impressed that a future Hall of Famer like Jeff Gordon would come to a rookie like him for drafting help.
“Jeff came to us and said, ‘Got a buddy?’” Bayne said. “I told him we didn’t, and he said, ‘You do now.’”
Bayne made himself much more valuable as a drafting partner by paying close attention to the first of the two Duels. He noticed that fellow Ford driver Matt Kenseth was able to maintain the pushing position for laps on end by occasionally moving to the right and thereby getting some cooling air flow to his engine.
Bayne adopted the strategy, and it worked for him too.
“You could move to the right, and the [water] temperature dropped 10 degrees in two corners,” he said.
Bayne said the only problem he had in his 150-mile qualifying race was that he and Gordon tended to be a little slow getting up to speed on restarts. And that turned out to be somewhat of a factor in the last-lap crash, which left him with a 19th-place finish after qualifying third and running as high as second place in the Duel.
“Everybody is racing like it’s the last lap of the big race, so when we got down to it we were three-wide at the end with a big run, and I think we just ran out of real estate there and [Gordon] came off the wall and got us,” Bayne said. “I hate it for all these guys because we were doing awesome, but that’s part of it.”
Wood said that while crashes are part of racing, this one was a relatively minor setback. “We’ll do some work on both sides and the nose, and we’ll be ready to go,” Wood said.
Bayne will line up 32nd for his first Daytona 500, but based on his performance on Thursday – and Jeff Gordon’s post-race comments – he won’t be there for long. “I really had a blast working with Trevor Bayne,” Gordon said. “He’s a good kid. He’s a heck of a race car driver. They’ve got a fast race car.”
Sunday’s 53rd annual Daytona 500 gets the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. with TV coverage on FOX.
Wood Brothers PR
Germain Racing has a new look for 2011. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champions are kicking off the year with a sponsorship from Tire Kingdom on the No. 30 Tundra and this season will be the first in two years that sees the 30 Tundra have a full-time teammate again. In fact, Bodine will be flanked by three teammates—Max Papis in the No. 9 GEICO Tundra, Brendan Gaughan, No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Tundra and Justin Lofton, No. 77 Lofton Cattle Tundra. Germain Racing’s three full-time additions to the Truck Series have played into the recipe for what could be the most competitive season in history, according to the reigning champ who is attempting to race in all three events at Daytona International Speedway this weekend.
“I’m excited about the truck series and for the series because we’ve got a lot of new teams coming in with really good drivers. I feel like this is probably going to be the most competitive year in the Truck Series ever,” explained Bodine, who is racing at Daytona International Speedway for Tire Kingdom in the No. 30 Tire Kingdom Tundra on Friday night, in the No. 15 Tire Kingdom Camry on Saturday and on Sunday in the No. 60 Tire Kindom Camry.
Bodine says the reason 2011 should go down in history as the best season ever is that the Truck Series fields are brimming full of competitive racing teams and drivers and it’s why the fans keep coming back to watch the Trucks.
“When the series first started, they had a lot of good guys, but there was only five or six teams that really could step up anytime and win a race. If you look at the list of teams we’ve got and drivers, I think this year there’s an honest 12 or 15 teams that could win on any given week. To have that kind of level of competition is incredible,” said Bodine, noting that in a 36 truck field, nearly half of the competition is regularly competing for the win each week. “I believe that’s one reason that fans are drawn to the Truck Series,” said Bodine. “We’ve got a lot of good teams that are on level playing fields. We don’t have four or five that are going to run away with the show every week. When the fans show up to watch, they never know who is going to win.”
Bodine and Germain Racing are part of the deeper talent pool this season. They have recruited three full-time drivers to add to their Truck Series fleet this year. Bodine did his part. They are also part of another big three in Daytona as Bodine and Germain Racing attempt to race in the Truck Series season opener as well as the NNS and NSCS openers all with sponsorship from Tire Kingdom.
“It’s pretty neat. I don’t know that it’s ever been done where one sponsor sponsored all three series at Daytona -- the same driver, same team. Tire Kingdom has been in racing -- they do a lot of other things in NHRA and drag racing, and they partnered with Valvoline to come up with this program for Speed Weeks. We’re really proud to be able to be with them in NASCAR. Hopefully we can grow the program and make it bigger and better down the line,” said Bodine.
Bodine is strapping into racing chassis TRD-058 for Friday’s season opener. It is the only chassis to ever be a No. 30 Tundra at Daytona or Talladega. The truck has four restrictor plate wins in a stretch that began with a pole and win in 2007 at Talladega and continued through a win at Daytona in 2009 in a then unsponsored No. 30 Tundra. No driver had collected four consecutive superspeedway wins when Bodine accomplished this.
Watch Bodine in the No. 30 Tire Kingdom Tundra on Friday, February 18th, at Daytona International Speedway on SPEED with race coverage beginning at 7:30 PM Eastern. Or, tune your radio to your local MRN affiliate.
Germain Racing PR
Kansas Speedway President Patrick Warren announced today that Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway will sponsor the fall NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race for 10 years beginning with the Oct. 9, 2011 race. The race will be the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway and is a part of NASCAR’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. In April 2010, construction began on the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway overlooking Turn Two of the speedway. The new facility is expected to open in the first half of 2012.
“We are excited to announce the new sponsor for our fall Sprint Cup Series race,” said Warren. “This represents the first of many opportunities that Kansas Speedway and Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway will have to work together to promote Kansas to national and international audiences.”
Single race tickets for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, as well as all events on the 2011 Kansas Speedway schedule, are currently on sale.
The $300 million Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway is being developed by Kansas Entertainment, a joint venture of Kansas Speedway Development Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of International Speedway Corporation (ISC), and Penn Hollywood Kansas, Inc., a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming Inc.
“We’re proud to be sponsoring the ‘Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway,’” said Tim Wilmott, President and Chief Operating Officer of Penn National Gaming. “This multiyear commitment is a further reflection of the strong partnership between Penn National and International Speedway Corporation and the state of Kansas. Wyandotte County and race fans will benefit from the synergies between our two exciting entertainment properties. We know this partnership will flourish even more in 2012 with the opening of Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway.”
The first phase of Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway will include a state-of-the-art casino with capacity for 2,300 slot machines, 61 table games and 25 poker tables on a 100,000 square-foot gaming floor. Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway will also feature 28,000 square-feet of other amenities including restaurants, clubs and nightlife attractions. The addition of the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway is estimated to bring nearly 440,000 tourists per year to the facility and create over 1,000 full time positions; elevating the facility to a year-round tourist destination.
The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway is part of an action packed race weekend that will include the Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Oct. 8. Penn National Gaming will bring VIP guests from its 17 gaming facilities throughout the country to Kansas Speedway where they will have the opportunity to meet NASCAR drivers, tour the infield and pit areas, and enjoy special seating and entertainment during the weekend’s races.
“We are very happy to see Hollywood Casino assisting with the promotion of tourism in Kansas through the sponsorship of a major race, in addition to the destination casino site that they are developing adjacent to Kansas Speedway,” said Kansas Lottery Executive Director Ed Van Petten.
Kansas Speedway tickets are on sale now for the 2011 season. Season tickets are available, starting at just $159 and include two NASCAR Sprint Cup races, the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck race, the Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and a Track Pass for each Sunday race event. Individual tickets are also on sale now for all events (June 4 O’Reilly Auto Parts 250, the June 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the Oct. 8 Kansas Lottery 300 and the Oct. 9 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race). Tickets for the June 5 Sprint Cup race start at just $59 and tickets for the Oct. 9 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race start at $64. Tickets are available by calling 866.460.RACE (7223) or by logging onto www.kansasspeedway.com.
Food City Race Night, one of racing’s most popular and successful fan events, features numerous NASCAR stars Friday, March 18.
Food City Race Night will be heavy on driver appearances, led by five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson took part in a question and answer session with fans a year ago, but this time around he will participate in the Wii Boxing competition in an effort to knock off two-time champ Elliott Sadler.
Clint Bowyer, Marcos Ambrose and David Reutimann are among the drivers who join Johnson in trying to wrest the Bristol Wii Championship belt from Sadler.
New this year to Food City Race Night is the BMS version of the Newlywed Game. However, instead of husbands and wives playing the game, it will feature drivers and crew chiefs. Among those expected to compete is Kasey Kahne and Kenny Francis, Tony Stewart and Darian Grubb and Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe.
Drivers expected to participate in a question and answer session include Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Brian Vickers, A.J. Allmendinger and David Ragan.
More than 20,000 fans attended last year’s Food City Race Night, which is free to fans and takes place in Bristol Motor Speedway’s hospitality area.
Food City Race Night opens at 4 p.m. with various drivers signing autographs, along with show cars, simulators and souvenir trailers. Live entertainment and free food sampling also are featured.
Tickets for the Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City are available for $93 while tickets for the Scotts EZ Seed 300 start at $45. Ford Fan Friday tickets are only $5 and are just $4 for fans who have tickets to the Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City.
A March race weekend package for both the Scotts EZ Seed 300 and the Jeff Byrd 500 can be purchased for as low as $99.
The 2011 season ticket package also is available and consists of both the Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City and the IRWIN Tools Night Race Sprint Cup events and the Scotts EZ Seed 300 and Food City 250 Nationwide races. Also included are lower-priced options to add Pole Day (March 18) and the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 Camping World Truck Series/UNOH Perfect Storm 150 Whelen Modified Series races (Aug. 24).
The Wallace Tower package is the lowest priced season ticket at BMS in 2011. The cost for the package is only $185 and includes special food and beverage discounts for season ticketholders.
You love NASCAR, and everyone loves money. So, Richmond International Raceway president Doug Fritz is combining the two and giving you the chance to win $100,000. Every week of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, race fans will have the chance to win some serious cash with the $100K Top 10 For the Win contest. Fans are invited to submit their weekly predictions for the top 10 finishing order of each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race during the 2011 season. If a fan predicts the top 10 in exact order, he or she wins $100,000!
The contest, which is featured at www.rir.com/contest, opens the Tuesday (9:00 a.m. ET) preceding that weekend’s race, with entries accepted until Friday (noon ET). A maximum of 5,000 entries will be accepted each week. If no contestant correctly picks the exact top 10 finishing order of a race, no cash prize will be awarded.
Fans are encouraged to return every week to enter the contest for a chance at the $100,000 prize. Weekly prizes will be awarded to the fan who picks the race’s winning driver and is closest to predicting the number of laps led by the winner.
Be sure to get your tickets now for NASCAR’s return to Richmond International Raceway. The NASCAR Tripleheader April 28-30, is highlighted by the Saturday, April 30 Crown Royal Presents The Your Name Here 400 Sprint Cup Series race. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased online at www.rir.com or by calling 866-455-RACE (7223).
Want to catch more of the action? The weekend also features the Friday, April 29 BUBBA burger 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race “under the lights.” Friday’s tickets start at $30 in advance. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East kicks off the weekend on Thursday, April 28, when they debut at America’s Premier Short Track for a race “under the lights.” Thursday’s tickets are general admission and $10. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections on Thursday and Friday. For tickets and information, log on to www.rir.com or call 866-455-RACE (7223).
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) today celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of pioneering individuals and organizations in the area of diversity at the fourth annual NASCAR Diversity Luncheon.
"Teams, tracks, sponsors and other stakeholders play a vital role in our efforts to further diversify our sport," said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR managing director of public affairs. "The NASCAR Diversity Awards are a small way to say thank you and recognize a few special people who create awareness and opportunity in NASCAR."
At a ceremony held at The DAYTONA 500 Club at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR recognized the following individuals and organizations across the industry for their outstanding impact:
Drive for Diversity Participant: Darrell Wallace Jr.
Darrell Wallace Jr. became the first African American and youngest driver in history to win a race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Darrell was also crowned rookie of the year and became the first African American to achieve the honor. Wallace Jr., 17, who lives in Concord, N.C., started racing when he was 9 years old and has found plenty of success along the way. In 2009, Wallace was named a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing. With support from JGR, he competed with his family-operated team in a number of late model events throughout the Southeast. He won his first late model race at Franklin County Speedway (Callaway, Va.) in 2008, becoming the youngest driver to win a late model race at the historic speedway, at age 14. He graduated last month from North West Cabarrus High School in Concord, N.C., on the honor roll.
Young Racer Award: Elijah Bacon
Elijah Bacon, 12, hails from Mooresville, N.C., where an interest in auto racing blossomed. Bacon, who is African American, was identified for the Revolution Racing Youth Driver Program last year after a community auto racing event at the New Birth Church in Huntersville, N.C. Last year marked his first year in racing, driving Bandoleros for Revolution Racing where he had three podium finishes. His most memorable experience came when he finished second in just the third race of his career.
NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Award: Kathryn Lee and Brittani Parker
Kathryn Lee, 20, of Jacksonville, Fla., interned last summer in the NASCAR Human Resources department in Daytona Beach, Fla. She’s currently a senior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Some of the projects she worked on included “Bring Your Kids to Work Day,” NASCAR University, and creating the framework for the new NASCAR employment website. Lee also did administrative research, including employee reference and background checks, and researching job posting databases.
Brittani Parker, 22, of Winston-Salem, N.C., was an intern last summer with The NASCAR Foundation in Charlotte where she performed a number of key duties. She’s a graduate of Winston-Salem State University. Parker also served as lead coordinator for a NASCAR Foundation-sponsored event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where 3,000 inner city youth and 1,000 business community members came together at the Hall of Fame to celebrate summer learning and the Freedom Schools program. She Assisted with NASCAR Day projects, including event planning and project coordination of the Ronald McDonald playground built in Kansas City, and coordinated donor receipts and gift records for events such as the Rusty Wallace Roast in Iowa.
The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is a 10-week paid summer internship program that exposes students to the many career opportunities within the motorsports industry.
Educational Institutional Award: Virginia State University
Virginia State University is awarded this prestigious honor because of their role in shaping tomorrow’s industry leaders. The school has set a high standard of excellence in the motorsports industry, and it is a prime example of the level of involvement and passion its students portray in regard to NASCAR and the entire motorsports industry. The institution has inspired and raised the student body’s interest and appreciation of motorsports. Professor Dr. Leon Bey received the award on behalf of Virginia State University, who has made great contributions to the advancement of the motorsports program at the school.
NASCAR Partner Award: Toyota
Toyota is recognized for their exemplary effort to incorporate diversity and inclusion within the motorsports industry. Toyota will be a vital component of Revolution Racing, the team all NASCAR Drive for Diversity racers will drive for this coming season. They have recognized the value and accomplishments of the team’s mission and will play a major role in the success of Revolution Racing. Revolution Racing will be the only team in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East without an affiliation to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team that will receive Toyota Racing Development support. Toyota was the primary sponsor to Darrell Wallace Jr.’s No. 6 car at the Toyota All-Star Showdown last month, and they will have a year-long primary sponsorship of one car in both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All American Series.
Industry Ambassador Award: Phil Horton
Phil Horton is the strength and conditioning coach for Revolution Racing, and is a 10-year veteran in NASCAR. Horton is a former pit crew coach for Chip Ganassi Racing, and driver Juan Pablo Montoya. He has accumulated 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup, 11 NASCAR Nationwide Series and five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins with notable drivers such as Rick Crawford, Jason Keller, Dale Jarrett, and Juan Pablo Montoya. Horton is honored for being an outstanding figure in this industry for his commitment to diversity in the motorsports industry, growing the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program, and his ability to bring talented people to the program. A total of 40 athletes have participated in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program since its inception in 2004, and last year program participants competed in 160 races, including 34 at the NASCAR Camping World Truck or NASCAR Nationwide Series levels. Horton is from Lenoir, N.C.
Two weeks after Travis Kvapil cheered his Green Bay Packers to Super Bowl victory in Arlington, Texas, a member of the NFL Championship team will be at the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Fla., to return the favor. Safety Nick Collins, who made one of the biggest plays of the Super Bowl with an interception he returned for a touchdown, will be Kvapil's guest at "The Great American Race" Sunday.
The driver of the No. 38 Long John Silver's Ford is locked in to the race after qualifying 20th in time trials earlier this week and will learn his starting position during Thursday's Gatorade Duels.
Collins is a Florida native and attended Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. When he wasn't setting records on the football field, he logged some hours at Daytona International Speedway working on a clean-up crew.
Kvapil attended Super Bowl XLV with his family and vowed to invite members of the Packers to the season-opening race if Green Bay won the title.
"It's going to be really cool to have Nick at the race on Sunday," said Kvapil. "His interception at the Super Bowl was one of those great moments where us Packer fans in the crowd just went crazy. Hopefully we'll give him and his family some memorable moments here at the Daytona 500."
"It's a privilege to be invited to the Daytona 500, and it will be cool to go back home where I spent my college years," said Collins. "My son loves NASCAR, so this will be a big deal for him, too. We'll be rooting for Travis. It was cool of him to invite us."
Collins' return to Daytona International Speedway will include highlights only fitting for a Super Bowl champion. He'll accompany Kvapil to the drivers' meeting, ride along with him on the pre-race parade lap and sit atop the Long John Silver's pit box for the race.
Sunday's Daytona 500 will be broadcast on FOX, with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.