SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Storylines Heading Into Daytona 500, Interview With Dale Earnhardt Jr. During Daytona 500 Media Day

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59TH DAYTONA 500 SET SUN. FEB. 26 ON FOX

ABOVE VIDEO: Space Coast Daily Sports Talk’s Alan Zlotorzynski talks with Dale Earnhardt Jr. during Daytona 500 Media Day.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA — There are always storylines when it comes to the “Great American Race.” The 59th running of NASCAR’s Super Bowl has more than it’s share of them on and off the track for this year’s running of the Daytona 500.

The race will be run this Sunday, Feb. 26 and coverage will be provided by Fox Sports starting at 1:00 p.m.

The Daytona 500 has only been run three times in it’s 59 history on Feb 26. The last time was 50 years ago in 1967 when then young driver but now racing legend, Mario Andretti won in an upset in the ninth installment of the Great American Race.

To honor the feat, NASCAR has named Andretti an Honorary Race Official for the Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Andretti be introduced at the drivers’ meeting, participate in pre-race ceremonies, ride in one of the parade cars and take part in question-and-answer sessions in fan hospitality areas and the UNOH Fanzone.

In addition, a replica of Andretti’s 1967 winning No. 11 Holman-Moody Ford will be on display on Dayona 500 Weekend in the UNOH Fanzone.

ON TRACK STORYLINES: 

Defending DAYTONA 500 champion: Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin will look to become only the fourth driver to win consecutive DAYTONA 500s. In the 2016 DAYTONA 500, Hamlin nipped Martin Truex Jr. at the finish by .010 seconds – the closest finish in the history of “The Great American Race.” The last driver to win consecutive DAYTONA 500s was Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.

Last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Jimmie Johnson captured his seventh championship to tie the all-time record held by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. (NASCAR image)

In pursuit of the championship record: This year’s DAYTONA 500 will kick off Hendrick Motorsports driver and two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Jimmie Johnson’s pursuit of an unprecedented eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson captured his seventh championship to tie the all-time record held by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

Championship format: The 200-lap “Great American Race” will be divided into three stages – 60, 60 and 80 laps – with series championship points awarded to drivers and owners for each stage finish. The DAYTONA 500 will be the first Monster Energy Series event using NASCAR’s new format that divides races into stages.

Can-Am Duel: The 150-mile qualifying races that determine the starting lineup for the DAYTONA 500 will now also award points for the first time since 1971. Each Can-Am Duel race will award points to the top-10 finishers.

ABOVE VIDEO: With big brother Daryl Waltrip cheering him on, Michael Waltrip would his first ever Daytona 500 in 2001 but the race will forever be remembered for the last lap crash that ended the life of  one of the sport’s greatest ever drivers, Dale Earnhardt Sr. The elder Waltrip sensed right away something was amiss with the No.3 car and it’s legendary driver. 

 

Final 500: Michael Waltrip, a two-time (2001, 2003) DAYTONA 500 champion, will make his final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start in this year’s DAYTONA 500. Three of Waltrip’s four Monster Energy Series victories have come at DIS.

New faces:  Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones are beginning their rookie campaigns in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Suarez has taken over the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing formerly driven by Carl Edwards, who recently announced his retirement. Suarez won the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship last season, also driving for Gibbs.

Jones, who captured the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, will drive the No. 77 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota for Furniture Row Racing.

ABOVE AUDIO: NASCAR.com Senior Writer Kenny Bruce joins Space Coast Daily’s Alan Zlotorzynski to talk about the Daytona 500 and upcoming season. 

Dale Jr. returns: Two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes his return to NASCAR competition for the first time since last July. Earnhardt, who has 17 overall victories at DIS including the 2004 and 2014 DAYTONA 500s, has been recovering from concussion symptoms.

New sponsors: The DAYTONA 500 is the first event for Monster Energy as the premier series’ new entitlement partner.

VIDEO: Joey Logano Wins Delayed Advance Auto Parts Clash Following Wild Final LapRelated Story:
VIDEO: Joey Logano Wins Delayed Advance Auto Parts Clash Following Wild Final Lap

OFF THE TRACK: 

ENTERTAINMENT IS PLENTIFUL: 

DAYTONA 500 Pre-Race Show: The multi-Platinum trio Lady Antebellum will perform the pre-race show prior to the start of the 59th annual Daytona 500.

DAYTONA 500 Grand Marshal: Actor Owen Wilson, the voice of the animated character “Lightning McQueen” from the famed “Cars” movie franchise produced by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, will serve as Grand Marshal for the race.

USAF Thunderbirds return: U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron returns for an eighth year to perform the fly-over for the D500. The Thunderbirds flyover will feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft.

ABOVE VIDEO: The multi-Platinum trio Lady Antebellum perform their 2009 hit, Need You Know. The group will also perform the pre-race show prior to the start of the 59th annual Daytona 500.

VIDEO: Hendrick Teammates Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Will Sit on Front Row In Daytona 500Related Story:
VIDEO: Hendrick Teammates Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Will Sit on Front Row In Daytona 500

DAYTONA 500 Honorary Starter: NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson will serve as Honorary Starter for the Daytona 500. Tomlinson, a former All-Pro running back with the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets, was recently announced as part of the 2017 class of inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

DAYTONA 500 National Anthem: Multi-platinum recording artist, actress and DAV Ambassador Jordin Sparks, whose faith-based film “God Bless The Broken Road” will be in theaters early 2017, will perform the National Anthem prior to the start of the race.

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ABOVE VIDEO: Daytona International Speedway has redefined how you start a race and how you finish it. It’s redefined how you win a race and how you witness one. It’s redefined family legacies and family fun. It’s the place that redefined everything a race can be.


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