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Advance Auto Parts, a leading automotive aftermarket parts provider in North America that serves both professional installer and do-it-yourself customers, has signed a strategic, multi-year partnership with the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
The agreement designates Advance Auto Parts as the official partner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at events including the legendary Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, INDYCAR Grand Prix, Lights at the Brickyard, and more. Advance Auto Parts has more than 5,100 company-operated stores across the United States and Canada.
"Advance Auto Parts is a perfect fit with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Matt Davis, Advance Auto Parts marketing and sponsorships manager. "Indianapolis is the racing capital of the world, and we couldn't be more eager to see the Advance Auto Parts brand represented with one of the most famous sports venues on Earth."
The IMS Radio Network also will be renamed the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
"We're thrilled to welcome a globally recognized brand and first-class company like Advance Auto Parts to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's family of sponsors and lineup of world-class events," IMS President Doug Boles said. "Advance Auto Parts represents quality and places its customers first, and those values also are so important to us. We are grateful to LST Marketing for its skilled work in facilitating a partnership that showcases the growing and cross-generational reach of our fan base."
"Our brand and the name 'Indy' are synonymous with excellence in automotive," Davis said. "We can't wait to get started."
Twelve hours after celebrating his DAYTONA 500 victory in Daytona International Speedway’s Gatorade Victory Lane, the newest champion of “The Great American Race” was still processing the defining moment of his NASCAR career.
“It’s surreal,” the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said Monday morning, during the annual Champion’s Breakfast in the Speedway’s Bill France Room. “Wins are hard to come by … but to win the DAYTONA 500, it’s hard to put into words. It’s beyond belief, really.
“As a kid you watch this race on TV and you live the experiences with the drivers who win the race or lose the race. And after racing in this race for 16 years [myself] now and having it go 16 different ways, when you win it, it erases all those memories and now you have this permanent memory of being able to drive into victory lane with the winning car.”
Busch indeed was 0-for-15 in the DAYTONA 500 coming into Speedweeks 2017, but he also had three DAYTONA 500 runner-up finishes (2003, ’05, ’08) to his credit. Busch also is a former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, having won that title in 2004. Since then, his career has traveled to both peaks and valleys.
Peaks and valleys are now history. The DAYTONA 500 is summit material.
“I’m a survivor,’ Busch said. “I feel like I’ve pulled the sword from the stone. We’ve conquered Daytona.”
During the Champion’s Breakfast, DIS President Chip Wile presented championship jackets to Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner (with Tony Stewart) Gene Haas and crew chief Tony Gibson, a Daytona Beach native; a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watch to Busch; the Harley J. Earl DAYTONA 500 championship trophy to Haas; and the Cannonball Baker champion crew chief trophy to Gibson. In addition, Wile and Busch unveiled the logo for the 60th annual DAYTONA 500 on Feb. 18, 2018.
Another DAYTONA 500 tradition continued Monday as the DAYTONA 500 champion car began its one-year showcasing in the DIS Ticket and Tours Building residence. Yearly, the winning car is brought in direct from Gatorade Victory Lane. The goal is to allow fans to see the car in all its race-mode authenticity. That mission was accomplished with Busch’s No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford. The car reflects the intense battle waged Sunday, with dents, dings, tire rubs and duct tape. There’s even a huge chuck of infield sod on the hood, which flew up and landed there during Busch’s post-race donuts in the grass.
Following photos of Busch and the entire Stewart-Haas team with the No. 41, the new champion placed one foot and both hands in cement, then carefully signed his name on the square that will be added to the DAYTONA 500 Champion’s Walk of Fame outside the Ticket and Tours Building.
Another tradition: the annual whirlwind high-profile media tour for the champion. Busch left for New York City after the breakfast for two days of media activity that includes FOX News, Race Hub on FOX, NASCAR America on NBC and ESPN’s SportsCenter on Monday; and Live! With Kelly, SiriusXM and Game Set Max on FOX on Tuesday. The media tour will continue in Atlanta on Thursday with stops at The Weather Channel and CNN Headline News.
After a rough and tumble opening weekend for all three national touring series, the 2017 NASCAR season shifts 400 miles north to Atlanta Motor Speedway, a track where drivers will face a whole different set of challenges, as the historic facility, first opened in 1960, closes the books on one iconic era of racing before opening another on a new surface in 2018.
As the season shifts into its non-restrictor-plate racing schedule, Week 2 offers a bounty of intriguing storylines to watch as NASCAR returns to the historic high banks of Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Final Race on Current Atlanta Surface
After 20 years, 31 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, 19 XFINITY Series races and 15 Camping World Truck races since it was last repaved in the spring of 1997, Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 1.54-mile quad oval track will see one more race in each of NASCAR’s top three series this before getting a facelift later this spring. Atlanta's is the second-oldest surface on the NASCAR circuit.
Some of the many iconic events in NASCAR’s history that happened on the current surface include Dale Earnhardt’s 0.01-second margin of factory over Bobby Labonte in 2000, Kevin Harvick’s emotional and record-setting 0.006-second margin of victory over Jeff Gordon in Earnhardt’s Richard Childress Racing car the following year, Carl Edwards’ first Cup Series victory and subsequent season sweep of both Atlanta races in 2005 and the first-ever Atlanta night race in 2009.
NASCAR’s 2500th Race
In its 68th year of competition, NASCAR will run its 2,500th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway during this Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. It will also be Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 102nd 500-mile race. No other track on the circuit has hosted as many races of that length.
Double-Duty for Chase Elliott
After leading 23 of the final 26 laps in yesterday’s season-opening race and falling just short of his first regular-season victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, 21-year-old Chase Elliott will offer Georgia racing fans double the opportunity to watch him win on his home track.
Elliott will pilot the No. 23 All-Star Team for GMS Racing in Saturday’s Active Pest Control 200 Camping World Truck Series race, just his 11th career start in a truck, before attempting his first Cup Series win in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday.
AMS Legends Alum Victorious
While Elliott fell just short of his first Cup Series victory, one of his fellow AMS Legends alumni did emerge victorious after the first week of the 2017 NASCAR season. Kaz Grala, who raced on the AMS “Thunder Ring” in both 2011 and 2012, sealed his first NASCAR win in last Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race in Daytona. He will try for his second straight to open the season in this Saturday’s Active Pest Control 200, driving for GMS Racing in the Camping World Truck Series.
Seven-Time Three Straight at Atlanta?
In its 57-year history, no driver has ever won three straight races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson can be the first to accomplish that feat on Sunday. Johnson drove from the 37th starting position in 2015 and the 19th last season to win back-to-back Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 victories. He is the winningest current driver at Atlanta with five trips to Victory Lane. NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Fred Lorenzen, however, did win four races in four years at Atlanta from 1961 to 1964, though they were not consecutive. Cale Yarborough, another Hall-of-Famer, did something similar three years in a row from 1967 to 1969, winning three straight Atlanta spring races.
The defending 2016 Atlanta Camping World Truck Series winner, John Hunter Nemechek, will be joined on the race track this weekend by his father, four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and 16-time XFINITY Series winner, Joe Nemechek, in the Active Pest Control 200. Father Joe has two Camping World Truck Series starts at Atlanta under his belt, finishing 35th in 2006 and 10th in 2015. He also has seven top-10 finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level in 39 Atlanta races.
Crowded XFINITY Series Lineup
While full-time XFINITY Series drivers make up the bulk of the Rinnai 250 entry list, several Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are set to crowd the front of the pack for Saturday’s race. Brothers Austin and Ty Dillon, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and Aric Almirola are all scheduled to compete for this year’s Atlanta XFINITY Series crown.
Three drivers, JJ Yeley, Mike Harmon and Kyle Busch, winner of the 2016 Atlanta XFINITY Series race, are scheduled to drive in both the Rinnai 250 XFINITY Series and Active Pest Control 200 Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday.
The 2017 Atlanta NASCAR weekend gets underway this Friday, March 3 with practice sessions from all three NASCAR national touring series, followed by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying. On Saturday, AMS will host NASCAR’s only same-day doubleheader with the Rinnai 250 XFINITY Series and Active Pest Control 200 Camping World Truck Series races. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race rounds out the weekend on Sunday, March 5.
Watkins Glen International and Suburban Propane, L.P., have announced an arrangement that will allow fans to have their propane tanks filled on-site during events.
Suburban Propane is a nationwide marketer and distributor of a diverse array of products to meet the energy needs of its customers, specializing in propane, fuel oil and refined fuels, as well as the marketing of natural gas and electricity in deregulated markets.
Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup said the affiliation with Suburban, and the ability to offer a convenient filling service for fans, is a perfect fit.
“Customer service is crucial to Suburban Propane, and that’s a big reason why they have been leaders in their industry since 1928,” Printup said. “Similarly, Watkins Glen International considers customer service to our fans among our most important initiatives. With these similar values, the relationship with Suburban Propane is a great one, and we look forward to working with them in the years to come.”
Fans are encouraged to bring their empty propane tanks to the Watkins Glen International Operations Center, located in the facility’s infield near the main tunnel, and can have their existing tanks refilled, or exchanged for new tanks, saving them a trip to the village of Watkins Glen or elsewhere.
“We’re collaborating with Watkins Glen International because we believe our work together can offer a unique convenience to local racing fans,” said Jasen Gray, manager of Suburban Propane’s Horseheads, New York, customer service center. “This was an easy decision for us, and we’re looking forward to a great year.”
Kurt Busch used a last-lap pass to win the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 Sunday in a raucous, rough-and-tumble season-opening race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford), a three-time DAYTONA 500 runner-up and the 2004 series champion, made a high-line move coming off the Daytona International Speedway backstretch to pass Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet), as Larson was running out of fuel. Busch beat Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford) at the line by 0.228 seconds, with AJ Allmendinger (Kroger Click List Chevrolet) finishing third.
“My rear-view mirror fell off with 30 laps to go,” Busch said. “I said to myself, ‘that’s an omen.’
The story of this victory comes with a couple of significant sub-plots. Busch’s crew chief Tony Gibson is a native of Daytona Beach, while Busch’s car owner Tony Stewart got a victory in the first race since he retired from driving after the 2016 season.
“I ran this damn race for 17 years and couldn’t win it,’ Stewart said. “Now, to win it as an owner … this is awesome.”
Polesitter Chase Elliott (No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet) led 39 laps and appeared headed toward Gatorade Victory Lane, but ran out of fuel himself with three laps remaining, giving the lead to Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 BASS Pro Shops/TRACKER BOATS Toyota), who led for one lap before Blaney assumed the lead. Elliott finished 14th.
Elliott and two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) started on the front row and led the 40-car field to the green flag. It was a back-to-the-future feel: their famous fathers who were bitter rivals, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt, started 1-2 four times during their legendary careers.
This race will be remembered, in part, for a series of multi-car incidents that involved many of NASCAR’s biggest names and whittled the field in dramatic fashion.
- On Lap 105, Kyle Busch’s car (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) had a tire go down in Turn 3, causing him to spin and collect five other cars, including Earnhardt’s Chevrolet, which had been leading the race since Lap 97. The right front of Earnhardt’s car rolled atop Busch’s Toyota, causing considerable damage – to the radiator and suspension, primarily – which forced Earnhardt out of the race. Earnhardt, NASCAR’s long-running most popular driver, was racing for the first since the middle of last season when he was sidelined due to concussion-like symptoms.
- On Lap 128 in Turn 4, 17 cars were involved in another incident that ended the day for two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), and a strong-running Danica Patrick (No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford), among others. Two other former champions, Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) and Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford) were able to return after some repairs, with their chances of winning as dented as their cars.
- On Lap 142, 12 cars tangled on the backstretch, knocking out two more big names – former DAYTONA 500 champion Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Cessna McDonald’s Chevrolet) and former series champion Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford).
“The more that becomes unpredictable about Daytona, the more it becomes predictable to predict unpredictability," Busch said. "The more I run this race the more I just throw caution to the wind.”
Speedweeks 2017 served as the debut for NASCAR’s new national series format that divides races into three stages with extra points awarded to the top-10 finishers in each of the first two stages. The DAYTONA 500 had a 60-60-80 lap division. Kyle Busch led at the end of the first stage, with Harvick leading at the end of the second.
Hamlin, the defending race champion, finished 17th, thwarted in his attempt to become only the fourth driver to win consecutive DAYTONA 500s. (Richard Petty in 1973-74, Cale Yarborough in 1983-84 and Sterling Marlin in 1994-95 are the three to achieve the feat.)
Hamlin was one of 10 former DAYTONA 500 champions in the field, a group that included Michael Waltrip (No. 15 Aaron’s Toyota), the champion in 2001 and ’03 who finished eighth in his final NASCAR race.
The O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend is not for another 42 days but that didn't stop fans from pouring into the infield of Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.
In a race that evolved dramatically from early attrition into stunning door-to-door competition, Ryan Reed won the PowerShares QQQ 300, the high-intensity season-opener for the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
It required “NASCAR Overtime” which extended the race to 124 laps, four more than the scheduled distance. Reed, driver of the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford, surprisingly out-dueled three of NASCAR’s major stars – Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski – during the OT. Reed, the 300’s champion in 2015, edged Kahne by 0.219 seconds at the stripe.
The PowerShares QQQ 300 had two significant multi-car incidents early. The first involved 19 cars, the second one nine. Both resulted in red-flag periods. Meanwhile, Elliott Sadler was a constant, avoiding trouble and winning the first two stages – both 30 laps – to earn extra points in the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship standings. Speedweeks is serving as the debut for NASCAR’s new national series format that divides races into three stages with extra points awarded to the top-10 finishers in each of the first two stages. Sadler led 40 laps overall but exited after being caught up in a Lap 104 mishap.
After that, the lead changed hands repeatedly over the last 20 laps. Reed took the lead for good on the overtime restart.
“I don’t know how that looked from the grandstands or on television but from my view it was a lot of fun,” Reed said. “Now, let’s go get some more. Let’s go win a championship.”
Prior to the PowerShares QQQ 300, the final practice for the 59th annual Daytona 500 was held, a one-hour, 25-minute session with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. posting the fastest lap on the 2.5-mile tri-oval – 196.452 mph in the No. 17 Fastenal Ford. Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) had the best 10-lap average speed of 195.635.
Chase Elliott (No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet) and two-time champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) will start 1-2 in the DAYTONA 500 with two other former race champions, Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Cessna McDonald’s Chevrolet) and Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) starting third and fourth, respectively.
Hamlin is trying to become only the fourth driver to win consecutive DAYTONA 500s. The others: Richard Petty in 1973-74; Cale Yarborough in 1983-84; and Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.
Reserved stadium tickets for the 59th 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.
Ticket holders for “The Great American Race” on Sunday will enjoy all the amenities that come with the world’s only motorsports stadium including 101,500 permanent and wider seats, five expanded and redesigned entrances, 40 escalators and other upgrades throughout the 11 football-field sized neighborhoods in the facility.
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 is the second straight year that the DAYTONA 500 has sold out.
“The ticket demand for the DAYTONA 500 continues to be a constant in our sport,” Wile said. “Likewise, the race continues to be the perfect kick-off to a new NASCAR season, showcasing the unique and energized at-track experience that our sport – and our stadium – provides to our fans.
“This is the most prestigious event on the NASCAR schedule and a true American sports tradition. Fans have always recognized those facts. This latest sellout, once again, reflects that recognition.”
This year’s DAYTONA 500 will be attended by fans representing 41 different countries and every state in the U.S.
Rookie driver Kaz Grala guided his truck through, then past a last-lap incident involving 13 trucks to win an action-filled NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, to open the season for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Grala, an 18-year-old who started on the pole in the No. 33 Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil Chevrolet, emerged from the backstretch incident that ruined a dominating effort by Grala’s teammate, defending race champion – and reigning series champion – Johnny Sauter (No. 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet). Sauter led 52 laps of the 100-lap race, in the process also winning the race’s first two “stages” – in the debut of NASCAR’s new national-series format that divides races into three stages and awards points for each stage. Friday’s stages were 20, 20 and 60 laps.
Sauter was passed for the lead by former series champion Matt Crafton at the start of the final lap. Crafton was slightly ahead on the backstretch when multi-car contact sent his No. 88 Goof Off/Menards Toyota airborne, into a full flip – but then landing upright. Sauter, caught up in the incident, finished 15th.
Grala is the youngest Daytona International Speedway winner of a NASCAR national series race – 18 years, one month, 26 days. He was followed to the flag by Austin Wayne Self (No. 32 AM Technical Solutions Toyota) and another rookie, Chase Briscoe (No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford).
“I saw coming out of Turn 2 it was getting crazy,” Grala said. “There wasn’t going to be any way I was going to be lifting. I just went low, closed by eyes and crossed my fingers and luckily it worked out … it was pretty hectic.”
There were two practice sessions on Friday for the 59th annual DAYTONA 500, set for Sunday. The starting grid for the DAYTONA 500 had been finalized Thursday night via the Can-Am Duel, the annual pair of 150-mile qualifying races for “The Great American Race.” Chase Elliott (No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet) and two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) qualified 1-2 in the DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger on Feb. 19 to lock in front-row positions. The Can-Am Duel established the field beyond the front row.
David Ragan (No. 38 Camping World Ford) posted the fastest lap in the first practice, 194.898 mph. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) – a two-time DAYTONA 500 champion and seven-time champion of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – had the best average speed for 10 consecutive laps on the 2.5-mile tri-oval, 192.731.
The second practice was led by a 197.265-mph lap from former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota). Series rookie Erik Jones (No. 77 5-hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota) led the 10-consecutive lap averages at 195.933.
Final practice for the DAYTONA 500 is scheduled for Saturday from 12:30 p.m.-1:55 p.m.
Also Friday, two practices were held for Saturday’s PowerShares QQQ 300, the season-opening event for the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Justin Allgaier (193.890 mph) and JJ Yeley (187.005) had the respective fastest laps. Qualifying for the event is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, with the race at 3:30 p.m.
Axalta Coating Systems (NYSE: AXTA), a leading global manufacturer of liquid and powder coatings, and a Founding Partner of Daytona International Speedway (DIS), will help kick off a weekend of exciting festivities for the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 while it celebrates the new Axalta Center Injector. Beginning with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for children with cognitive or physical disabilities, Axalta and the other DIS Founding Partners will custom-fit cars so that the children can “race” in the famed motorsports stadium in their own sit-in cars.
Axalta is making this event possible in partnership with GoBabyGo!, a national program from the University of Delaware that empowers children with disabilities to become independently mobile through the use of custom-fitted motorized vehicles. Employees from Axalta and other Founding Partner organizations of Daytona International Speedway will work meticulously in Axalta’s new Center injector to retrofit motorized toy cars for 12 toddlers aged 5 and younger who have challenges freely moving on their own. With assistance from Florida Hospital, GoBabyGo! has selected children from the Daytona Beach, FL region to participate in this event.
This event will provide a very heartwarming and memorable sequence of life-changing moments for the children and their families. Prior to the vehicle build, children and their families will participate in an exclusive meet-and-greet with Jeff Gordon, four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and three-time DAYTONA 500 champion. Once the vehicles are completed and decorated by the injector teams, the children will “drive” their custom vehicles for the first time as they ride along the Axalta red carpet to the finish line. Every child will be presented with a Teddy Bear in a NASCAR-styled fire suit at the completion of the race.
“We are humbled and honored to celebrate the opening of the Axalta Center Injector at the Daytona International Speedway by offering children and their families this unforgettable experience,” said Joe McDougall, Axalta Senior Vice President. “To watch the children navigate their new, custom rides in a renowned location on race weekend in our new Center injector, will truly be an incredible memory for all of us.”
In May 2016, International Speedway Corporation and Axalta announced a multi-year partnership that made Axalta the fifth Founding Partner at Daytona International Speedway’s new motorsports stadium. The agreement provides Axalta with naming rights for the Center injector and other branding rights within specific areas of the stadium.
This partnership allows for increased engagement opportunities and ways to give back to the community. Axalta is committed to corporate social responsibility initiatives with a special focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Through this program, Axalta is proud to encourage their employees and those of Founding Partner organizations to apply their STEM skills to help those most in need.
Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin won the Can-Am Duel races on Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway, as the starting grid for Sunday’s 59th annual DAYTONA 500 was established by the two 150-mile qualifying events.
For the first time since 1971, drivers in the Can-Am Duel earned Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship points for their efforts – the top-10 finishers in each race, to be exact. Drivers responded to that new situation by staging all-out battles in both 60-lappers. There was no indication of drivers playing it safe and looking ahead to the DAYTONA 500.
That flat-out mindset was personified by Elliott in the No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. He started on the pole of the first Can-Am Duel race after posting the fastest speed last Sunday during DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger – which also locked him into the pole position for the DAYTONA 500. Elliott led a total of 25 laps including the last 24 in dominating style.
“It was a great way to start the season,” Elliott said. “I know this is just a Duel win and obviously I wish this was Sunday … but it still means a lot to me and it means a lot to our team.
“We had some big steam under the hood which was a huge factor in keeping us out front. I’m glad we were able to race and stay aggressive and battle those guys. Hopefully we can dial it in a little better on Sunday and give it another shot.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet, had the pole for the second Can-Am Duel race after qualifying second behind Elliott last Sunday – which locked him into the DAYTONA 500 outside pole. Earnhardt led 53 of 60 laps but was passed by Hamlin in Turn 3 on Lap 59 and came home sixth. Hamlin got invaluable drafting help from a trailing Austin Dillon, using the momentum to zip by Earnhardt on the outside.
Hamlin – the defending DAYTONA 500 champion – will start the No. 11 FedEx Toyota behind Earnhardt on Sunday in the fourth position, thanks to his Can-Am Duel victory.
“We had a great car and we got a great push from Austin,” Hamlin said. “[Earnhardt] thought I was going one way and I went the other. I’m not sure what this means or what this says [about our DAYTONA 500 chances] but overall, pretty happy with the result.”
Two drivers from each Can-Am Duel race – part of a group of six “Open” entries who came to Speedweeks without guaranteed spots in the DAYTONA 500 field – “raced their way” into the big show via their Duel race result. (Thirty-six drivers were guaranteed spots via their status as NASCAR “Charter” entries.) From the first Can-Am Duel race, it was Corey LaJoie; from the second race, it was DJ Kennington.
Friday night at 7:30, the NextEra Energy Resources 250 will open the season for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Qualifying for the event will be at 4:30 p.m. There was one practice session for the trucks on Thursday, with rookie Chase Briscoe posting the fastest lap – 192.980 mph – in the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford – owned by Brad Keselowski Racing.
Also Friday, two practice sessions will be held for both the DAYTONA 500 and the 59th annual PowerShares QQQ 300, Saturday’s season-opening race for the NASCAR XFINITY Series.