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Storylines For Budweiser Speedweeks 2014 And The 56th Annual Daytona 500
Posted by: newsla on Feb 13, 2014 - 08:24 PM
Storylines For Budweiser Speedweeks 2014 And The 56th Annual Daytona 500

Below are a number of storylines surrounding Budweiser Speedweeks 2014 and the 56th annual DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Please reach out to Lenny Santiago, Senior Director of Public Relations, or Andrew Booth, Senior Manager of Media Relations, if you’re interested in additional information or to set up an interview with DIS personnel.


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COMPETITION ON THE HIGH BANKS Ø Tony Stewart’s return to racing: The Sprint Unlimited marks Stewart’s long-awaited return to racing after suffering injuries in a sprint car accident in August 2013. Stewart, who is second on the all-time wins list at Daytona, is searching for his first DAYTONA 500 win in his 15th start in "The Great American Race."

Ø Defending DAYTONA 500 champion: Coming off a sweep of both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona in 2013, Jimmie Johnson is returning to the "World Center of Racing" attempting to become the first driver to capture back-to-back DAYTONA 500s since Sterling Marlin in 1994-95. A DAYTONA 500 win would put Johnson, who is the defending six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, alongside Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison and Dale Jarrett as three-time DAYTONA 500 winners.

Ø Return of No. 3: Austin Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, will drive the legendary No. 3 car for the 2014 season. The historic No. 3 hasn’t been used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition since 2001.

Ø Strong Rookie Class: This year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie class is loaded with promising young talent. Included in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year class are 2011 Camping World Truck Series and 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing), 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing), Parker Kligerman (Swan Racing), Justin Allgaier (Phoenix Racing), Michael Annett (Tommy Baldwin Racing) and Cole Whitt (Swan Racing).

Ø Danica Patrick enters second year: Danica Patrick started off her NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie season with a stellar Budweiser Speedweeks. She became the first woman to win a pole position in the history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a lap 196.434 mph. She followed up the pole with an eighth-place finish in the DAYTONA 500, the highest finishing woman in the history of the race. She will enter this year’s DAYTONA 500 with a pair of new teammates at Stewart Haas Racing - Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch.

Ø UNOH Battle At The Beach returns: The second annual UNOH Battle At The Beach, a short-track event featuring NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour, will run under the lights on Tuesday, Feb. 18 along the backstretch.

Ø Ben Kennedy tri-oval debut: The NextEra Energy Resources 250 will mark Ben Kennedy’s first race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., Kennedy previously raced on Daytona’s short track in the 2013 UNOH Battle At The Beach and will now race for Turner Scott Motorsports driving the No. 31 Chevrolet. Meanwhile, Ben Kennedy Racing will continue to field a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East team with Kenzie Ruston piloting the No. 96 Chevrolet.

Ø The Sprint Unlimited is the fan’s race: The Sprint Unlimited belongs to the fans. Race fans attending the star-studded non-points Sprint Unlimited on Saturday, Feb. 15 will have plenty of chances to win extraordinary prizes including riding in the Grand Marshal pace car, presenting the winner’s trophy and serving as an honorary pit crew member. Fans can pre-register online at www.DISrewards.com and onsite at stations located throughout the property. In addition, fans at home and in attendance once again control the structure of the race. Elements fan can vote on include the lap format, the starting order and the final segment restart order.

Ø Qualifying Matters: The 2014 NASCAR season kicks off with a new elimination-style qualifying rather than its traditional format. In the new knockout qualifying, three sessions will be run in order to win the pole. The first 25-minute session will contain all cars with only the top 24 moving on to the next round. The next session will last for 10 minutes and feature the top 24 cars with only the 12 fastest moving on to the final round to determine the pole winner. The new qualifying format will only be used in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series during Budweiser Speedweeks 2014 while the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will continue to use the traditional qualifying format for the DAYTONA 500.

Ø Budweiser Duel running under the lights in prime time: For the first time, the 150-mile qualifying races that determine the starting lineup for the DAYTONA 500 will run under the lights in 2014. To earn a coveted starting spot in "The Great American Race," the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have to perform in front of a primetime audience.

Ø NCWTS kicks off season: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will begin the season with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 under the lights on Friday, Feb. 21. Among the stars competing in the 100-lap race are Jeb Burton, Ben Kennedy, John Wes Townley, Matt Crafton and Darrell Wallace. Toyota has a seven-race winning streak in the always exciting season-opening event.

Ø Legendary names in Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAV TV American Real race: The Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAV TV American Real will feature three drivers with storied racing heritages. Chase Elliott, son of two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Bill Elliott, will drive his No. 9 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet. Driving for ThorSport Racing in the No. 13 Toyota is Jeb Burton, son of 2002 DAYTONA 500 champion Ward Burton. Justin Allison, grandson of International Motorsports Hall of Famer Donnie Allison and great-nephew of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, will drive the Team BCR Racing No. 88 Ford.

Ø 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame class: Legendary cars will be on display in the Sprint FANZONE to commemorate the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. Dale Jarrett’s 2000DAYTONA 500 winning car - the No. 88 Ford -- will be present alongside Richard Petty’s 1964 Plymouth Belvedere (honoring Petty engine builder Maurice Petty) , Tim Flock’s 1939 No. 91 Ford Coupe and Fireball Roberts’ 1939 No. 11 Ford Coupe. There will also be some memorabilia on display from the final inductee Jack Ingram.

Ø Team Changes: There have been plenty of changes in the offseason to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver line up. Among them include 2008 DAYTONA 500 Champion Ryan Newman, who has spent the past five seasons at Stewart-Haas Racing, taking over the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet. Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick will get two new teammates in 2014 - Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Martin Truex Jr. join Furniture Row Racing in the No. 78 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing adds young driver Kyle Larson to replace Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 42 Chevrolet. AJ Allemdinger will drive full-time for JTG-Daugherty Racing where he previously shared driving duties with Bobby Labonte.

Ø Progress continues on DAYTONA Rising: DAYTONA Rising is a $400 million reimagining of an American icon - Daytona International Speedway. Five expanded and redesigned entrances, or "injectors," will lead fans to a series of escalators and elevators, transporting them to three different concourse levels. Each level features spacious social areas, or "neighborhoods," along the nearly mile-long frontstretch. At the conclusion of the redevelopment, Daytona International Speedway will have approximately 101,000 permanent, wider and more comfortable seats, twice as many restrooms and three times as many concession stands. In addition, the Speedway will feature over 60 luxury suites with track side views and a completely revamped hospitality experience for corporate guests. Toyota has recently become the first Founding Partner, branding one of the injectors and a neighborhood in the new frontstretch. For more information, visit www.daytonarising.com.

JUST FOR FANS Ø Half Marathon: The Central Florida Sports Commission and Daytona International Speedway, in partnership with Volusia County, will host the Daytona Beach Half Marathon on Sunday, Feb. 16 as part of DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger. The race will start at 6:00 a.m. and among the NASCAR drivers expected to participate include six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Michael Waltrip. Runners will begin the half marathon on pit road at DIS and circle around the first two miles of the track before heading beachside. Runners will then return to the Speedway for the finish and a trip to Gatorade Victory Lane.

Ø Social Speedweeks: DIS is continuing the largest and most expansive social media effort in NASCAR to further engage fans both at the Speedway and at home. Initiatives include special Twitter hashtags, handles and tweet-ups, promotion of the FREE DIS Mobile App, an onsite RFID program and free DISINFO text alerts.

o RFID Program: Share your race day experience on your social media accounts with green screen photos and enter to win one of more than 1,000 prizes at the Daytona Rewards Stations powered by Windows, located throughout Daytona International Speedway. Prizes include the Grand Marshal and Honorary Starter for The Sprint Unlimited, Gatorade Victory Lane access, race tickets, garage tours, Pre-Race/Sprint FANZONE passes and much more.

Ø Convenience for Fans: Once again, larger coolers and backpacks are allowed so fans can bring more food, beverages and conveniently carry souvenirs and other items.

Ø Affordable Opportunities: DAYTONA 500 tickets start at $65. Kids 12 and under are half-price in backstretch grandstand seating and FREE in Sprint FANZONE when accompanied by a paid adult. For the Budweiser Speedweeks events with exception of the DAYTONA 500, kids 12 and under are free in General Admission seating areas.

FIRST CLASS ENTERTAINMENT AND HONORARY GUESTS Ø DAYTONA 500 Pre-Race Show: Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan will perform the DAYTONA 500 Budweiser Pre-Race Show.

Ø Honorary Starter: Gary Sinise, actor, humanitarian and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, will wave the green flag as the Honorary Starter for the DAYTONA 500.

Ø USAF Thunderbirds return: U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron returns for a fifth year to perform the fly-over for the DAYTONA 500. The Thunderbirds previously provided the fly-over for the DAYTONA 500 in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Thunderbirds fly-over will feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft.

Ø Celebrating Anniversaries: 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of Darrel Waltrip’s only DAYTONA 500 win. He captured the prestigious win in 1989 in his No. 17 Chevrolet. Waltrip will be present serving as a lead analyst for NASCAR on FOX. A three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Waltrip had 84 wins in his NASCAR career.

Ø American Blade Runner Blake Leeper as Honorary Race Official: Paralympic athlete Blake Leeper, known as the "American Blade Runner," will serve as Honorary Race Official. He won the silver medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games and the gold medal in the 400m Relay at the IPC Worlds in Lyon, France. Leeper is currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics for Team USA, where he would become the first double-amputee American to compete in the Olympic Games.


Ø Ongoing Recycling Initiatives: Daytona International Speedway, in partnership with Coca-Cola Recycling, has a recycling program to clean up and recycle cans and bottles during event weekends.

Ø Growing Corporate Display: Daytona International Speedway will host 45 display partners in 63 locations across property for the 2014 DAYTONA 500.

Ø Ticket holders from around the world: For the 56th annual DAYTONA 500, ticket holders from all 50 states and 39 countries will be represented in the grandstands for NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race.

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