Story By: Erin Zollars
Photos By: Sol Tucker
Daytona Beach, FL–
While it has been quite a while since we have checked out a race at Daytona, we thought with all the excitement brewing this season, we should stop down this week and see what’s cracking all around the track leading up to the race on Sunday.
It seems like every year Daytona has become more of the spectacle than most really see from the outside. For those in and around the track the storms that have occurred over the past few years have put a damper on the travel to the Daytona area. Washed away beach front areas, restaurants and hotels closing… but one thing every February that has brought life back to this town, is the Daytona 500. This year is shaping up to be no different.
Even the people working at the local gas stations seem to be hyped right down to the managers of the local restaurants we visited along the way to the track that rely on this huge race each year.
At the Crab Stop II, located a stone’s throw from the racetrack, one manager who didn’t want us to use her name said, “Hell f’ in yea, I am ready, it’s been a rough go for us with these last few storms to hit our coast and race fans just make this place pop. We can feel when racing is back and the food here is pretty good too, so drop on by during race week if you can get a seat.”
Some of the things to come out of the track this week is our old friend from Annapolis, MD and Nitro Circus and all-around gear head, Travis Pastrana, qualified for the 500 last night along with Jimmie Johnson.
Pastrana will driving a third entry for 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by Cup driver Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Other changes that you will see will be Kyle Busch in an entirely different look, which we saw debut at the Busch Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
Busch was the biggest name to change teams in the offseason. Busch had spent 15 seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing and won two titles and 56 Cup Series races in his time with the team. But his tenure came to an end after longtime sponsor M&M Mars said it was ending its sponsorship of his car and JGR elected to cut cost.
Costs have become a major issue for car owners the past few seasons as bigger companies are placing their marketing dollars in other places that aren’t racing related.
Going into race day, fans are expecting a lot from Alex Bowman in the Ally 48 car this season. He holds the poll spot and will have Kyle Larson on the front row with him Sunday. Should be a great race, but don’t count out Team Penske and Joey Logano, who is no stranger to this place. With guys like Jimmie Johnson back in it for a few races this season and Kevin Harvick hanging it up at the end of season, this Daytona 500 is poised to be a special one.
Weather looks nice for Sunday with forecasted 76 degrees and only a 13 percent chance of any rain during the day… lets go racing!!