For a majority of the world, Valentines Day was last week. For racing fans all around the world however, the true day of love falls this Sunday.
The Daytona 500. The Great American Race. The “Super Bowl” of racing. One of the greatest days as a NASCAR fan, sports fan, or as an American in general, is almost upon us.
It is one of the most anticipated days of the year. The entertainment, the star-power, the hype, the sights, the sounds, and the speed all add up to a day that some spend months waiting for.
The 58th running of the Daytona 500 will take place in front of a sellout crowd. It was announced earlier this week that the 101,500 stadium seats at Daytona International Speedway had been sold, and that fans from every state in the U.S. and from over 44 different countries will be in attendance on Sunday.
“We’re ecstatic to hold the first Daytona 500 since the completion of our $400 million Daytona Rising project,” said Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway. “The demand for this historic race has been tremendous, and we look forward to waving the green flag on February 21.”
The Daytona 500 pre-race concert will be performed by award-winning country duo Florida-Georgia Line. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, lead singers in the band, will perform some of their biggest hits in front of the sellout crowd in attendance and millions of viewers on FOX.
“It’s a dream come true to play in the city where I was born, went to high school in and now have the honor of being a part of one of my family’s favorite sporting events, the Daytona 500,” said Brian Kelly, Florida-Georgia Line singer. “Performing at the 500 feels full circle to me as I grew up working the 500 as a fundraiser for our baseball team and was in awe then and still am.”
Adding to the list of celebrities that will be in attendance on Sunday is WWE star John Cena, who will be behind the wheel of the Daytona 500 pace car. Cena will lead the field during the pace laps just before the green flag. Baseball Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey Jr., will wave the green flag over the forty car field.
Rookie driver, Chase Elliott, will be the first car to cross under the green flag, as he earned the pole position for the 500 after having the fastest lap in qualifying last week. The 20-year old driver from Dawsonville, GA is embarking on his first season behind the wheel of Jeff Gordon’s old No.24 Hendrick Motorsports car.
“This is a big day, but at the same time, this is a long week,” said Elliott after winning the pole. “This is a step in the right direction, but this is one lap versus 500 miles on Sunday.”
Elliott knows that winning the 500 isn’t going to be an easy task. Only seven drivers in the race’s long history have ever started on pole and ended up in Victory Lane.
Can Elliott pull off the Daytona upset? Can Joey Logano make it back-to-back wins in the season-opening race? Will Danica Patrick finally be able to erase the goose-egg next to her name in the win column?
There are a lot of questions yet to be answered, but one thing is for certain however, this year’s Daytona 500 is going to be one full of star-power, excitement, and drama.
So I suggest you put out your checkered flags, fill up the ice chests, fire up the BBQ’s, tune the TV to FOX, and get yourself ready to kickback and enjoy one of the greatest spectacles in the world on Sunday afternoon.