How to Prepare for the Daytona 500
The Daytona 500 has held legendary status with racing fans for six decades and running. It’s the most prestigious race of the year and kicks off the NASCAR season in late February.
Since 1959, race fans around the country have fled the winter cold to visit Daytona, watch the race and soak up some sun. The event often s out and sees about 200,000 fans a year. Who wouldn’t want to watch mean machines zoom around a 2.5-mile track at about 200 mph only mere inches apart?
The Daytona 500 is not only the chance to celebrate one’s love of the race but also to have a blast and connect with other NASCAR fans. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t miss out!
1. Kickoff With Speedweeks
Speedweeks is nine days of racing events leading up to the big 500 that you won’t want to miss. During Speedweeks, you’ll have the chance to witness races that are entertaining and make a big difference for Daytona 500 drivers.
Watch veterans race around the track with rookies in the Lucas Oil 200 or invitation-only drivers sprint around the track in the Advance Auto Parts Clash. Don’t miss the chance to see drivers dash for the front row in the Daytona 500 Qualifying race. Or watch drivers duel for championship points and positions with the Can-Am Duel — the most important field-setting race during Speedweeks.
You can also share in the excitement of a Friday night too-close-for-comfort truck race, and don’t miss the next generation earn some respect in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener race.
You can purchase tickets to each Speedweeks race through the official speedway website. Kids 12 and under are free with a paying adult for general admission seating, and they get free access to the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) Fanzone. In the Fanzone, you can walk the track, watch drivers prepare for the race up-close, join in on autographing sessions and more.
Adults need to purchase a UNOH Fanzone wristband in addition to their race ticket, but for serious race fans, this is a bonus well worth the cost.
Don’t forget to show support for your favorite driver with hats, jackets or other memorabilia. If you catch an autograph moment during Speedweeks, you won’t want to be empty-handed. No matter your level of fandom, we have the gear you need to get in the spirit.
2. When to Buy Tickets
Tickets can sell out in a flash, so it’s recommended that you purchase your tickets as soon as possible. Tickets might go on sale as early as nine months ahead of time, so if you know you plan to make next year’s race, try to get your tickets over the summer.
Wondering where to score the best tickets? We recommend going nowhere other than the official Daytona International Speedway website. If you go to the official site, you get to pick your seats, if they’re available, from a seating chart before purchasing tickets. Tickets range from $95 to over $230. You’ll pay full price if you go this route, but it’s convenient and you’ll have the security of knowing the tickets are authentic.
Purchasing tickets from a third-party vendor can be risky, especially since the speedway has seen lots of fake tickets in the past. You likely would not save too much on tickets from another vendor anyway, and in some cases, you might get overcharged. Although not all third-party tickets are invalid or priced high, it might not be worth taking the chance. The last thing you want is to arrive at the gate and find out you can’t make it inside.
All ticket sales through the official Daytona International Speedway site are final. However, if you do need to cancel, you could sell unwanted tickets to the next anxious fan. The best thing to do is stay ahead of the game and buy tickets months ahead of time.
3. How to Reserve a Space to Tailgate
Tailgating spots are just as coveted as Daytona 500 tickets themselves, so you’ll need to make sure you get a head-start in this arena, too. Plan to arrive as early as 6 a.m. the day of the race to park in the infield, but check the official site ahead of time to make sure you get there when they start selling infield admission tickets.
Expect to pay around $60 per car to party pre-race in the infield, but it might be well worth the cost.
Parking in Lot 7 is free but fills up fast. If you go with this lot, you’ll have to take the shuttle to and from the stadium. Post-game exit time can take around an hour, so be prepared to wind down in your car after the race. To avoid parking hassles, you might want to consider skipping speedway parking altogether and stay at a nearby hotel that offers a shuttle service.
Or, if you’re willing to pay the price, you can to have the ultimate Speedweek experience and camp out. And if you don’t own an RV, you can always rent one. RVs must purchase a campsite and can’t park in a regular infield spot.
Whether you camp for days or choose to tailgate in the hours before the big event, here are our tips for making your tailgating celebration fun and unforgettable:
Tailgating Food Ideas
Great sports events require great eats and traditional favorites. Don’t shy away from classics like hot dogs, barbeque and potato salad at your tailgating event. However, we’d like to share some easy ideas to spice up the big day. Here are some of our favorites to rev up your appetite:
Keep friends and family happy while they wait for the main course with tasty and easy-to-grab finger foods. One of our favorites is this Cheddar Ale Pub Spread because you can prepare it ahead of time, leaving you more time to enjoy the tailgating festivities. Here’s how to make it the day before:
- Place 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese and 8 ounces of softened cream cheese in a food processor or blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Gradually add ½ tablespoon ale or beer, 1 teaspoon dry mustard and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- Refrigerate the mixture until it is firm.
- Mold the mixture into a ball shape.
- Wrap the cheese ball tightly in plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil.
- Refrigerate the cheese ball until it’s time to pack up.
- Combine ½ cup chopped pecans and ½ cup chopped fresh parsley in a bowl and save for later.
- Pat the mixture on the ball or roll the ball in the mixture the day of the tailgate.
Serve your cheese with crackers, pretzels or sliced apples. Other fun finger food ideas to consider include:
- Pizza wheels
- Taco dip
- Pigs in a blanket
Though hot dogs and burgers are easy to toss on the grill and smell amazing, we’re going to recommend sandwiches you can prep at home. Try these Mini Muffulettas:
- Pulse two 16-ounce jars of pickled vegetables in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Stir in ¾ cup of chopped pimento-stuffed olives and 2 tablespoons of olive-oil-and-vinegar dressing.
- Spread mixture on each bottom of 12 sliced dinner rolls.
- Top each bottom with 1 slice of Swiss cheese, 1 ham slice, 1 salami slice and 1 provolone slice and then cover with the other half.
- Place in Ziploc bags and refrigerate or keep cool until ready to serve.
Sides like creamy potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw are delicious and well-loved choices, but they require refrigeration or lots of ice to keep at a safe temperature. No food should be left out for longer than two hours unrefrigerated. So make sure you pack plenty of ice and keep an eye on the time.
Our idea for a side is Grilled Corn, Mexican-style because it’s fun to chomp on and addictively delicious:
- Heat the grill to medium-high and set the rack about 4 inches from the fire.
- Put 4 ears of husked corn on the grill.
- Cook until the kernels start to char, or for about 5 minutes.
- Turn corn and continue to cook until slightly blackened all around.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 to 2 tablespoons of lime juice, ¼ teaspoon of chili powder and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.
- Serve with the mayo in place of butter.
Make sure you have plenty of munchies to take into the race, for the ride home or for all the moments in-between. What’s a party without something crunchy, after all?
Here’s a Cheesy Snack Mix you can prepare ahead of time of time and that’s so scrumptious, you might want to double the ingredients:
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Combine 4 cups of Chex cereal, a 1 ¾-ounce can of potato sticks, 2 cups of breadstick pieces, 2 cups of cheese crackers and a 6-ounce can of whole smoked almonds in a shallow pan.
- Combine ¼ cup of butter and 3 tablespoons of Italian dressing in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter is melted.
- Pour the butter mixture over the cereal mixture and toss to coat evenly.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Stir twice.
- Spread mixture over a sheet of foil to cool.
- Transfer to containers or plastic bags and leave at room temperature.
Voila! Your tasty, easy snacks are ready for the race! You might also want to consider bringing some sweet treats to the tailgating festivity, like easy-to-make whoopie pies or super simple peanut butter bars.
And, of course, don’t forget the beverages! Lots of water is a must-have and so is some classic American beer like Budweiser, Coors and Miller to get the party started.
Tailgating Games Ideas
Tailgating is the perfect opportunity to play games and have fun before and after the race. Here are some classics to enjoy with your comrades or tailgating neighbors:
- Cornhole Toss: You can easily make a portable cornhole set at home with materials like cardboard and wood. Paint it your favorite car color.
- Ring Toss: Pretty much all you need to make a ring toss set are clean glass bottles, a wooden crate and some rope. If any of the bottles break, all you have to do is crack open a fresh one and you’ll be tossing again in no time.
- Ladder Golf: Use PVC pipes to make this fun and portable tossing game. It can easily fold up and be put aside when it’s time to take a break.
- Washer Toss: Have some plywood and washers laying around? Prep for the party and make an easy washer toss game. You can break up into teams and maybe even offer a prize.
- Balancing Block Tower: All you need to make this giant Jenga game is wood, a hand saw and sandpaper. Use a laundry bag to store the pieces.
- Beer Pong: If you own a folding table, plastic cups and tennis balls, you have everything you need for a game of beer pong. Just don’t forget the beer!
If you’d rather relax and enjoy some pre-race conversation, that can be a fun option too!
Make sure you bring the right gear to make the most out of the celebration. Represent your favorite drivers with tailgating must-haves like:
- A folding tailgate chair with your driver’s number
- Screen-printed can coolers
- Koozies with graphics
- Tote or duffle bags to hold necessities
- Driver banners or flags to mark your spot
- Jacket or hoodie to stay warm
What could be more fun than showing off your Jimmie Johnson or Chase Elliott driver support than sipping a cold one in a printed koozie? Make sure you have lots of comfortable seating available too, so everyone can kick back, chit-chat and enjoy the overall excitement surrounding you before the race.
Although we covered the necessities to make your tailgating experience a success, there are plenty of other things to consider before you pack up and head out. Make a list of everything you need to help stay focused and organized.
Here are a few more tailgating tips to make the event as relaxed and enjoyable as possible:
- Know the rules: Check the official Daytona International Speedway site before your trip to make sure you know everything that’s allowed and not allowed inside.
- Consider the weather: Although Florida is typically warm in February, it can still get chilly in the winter and weather can be unpredictable. Check the forecast and prepare for changes by bringing a jacket and a poncho.
- Think of garbage: Bring lots of trash bags to take out everything you bring in.
- Bring enough coolers: Be sure to bring a minimum of two coolers and enough ice to match. Pack the items you’ll need first on top.
- Prep your grill: Make sure your grill is clean, your tools are ready to use and you have plenty of fuel for the fire.
- Prep snacks: Have plenty of easy-to-serve snacks ready to keep hungry people happy while the grill heats up.
- Prep at home: Make life easier and prep as much as you can at home, like mixing drinks or dicing veggies.
- Get what you need: Shop ahead of time and make sure you have the right equipment to make the experience comfortable and convenient for everyone, including folding chairs, tables and utensils.
- Stay hydrated: All the fun and excitement can leave you parched, so always make sure to bring plenty of water.
- Use a balloon: Attach a balloon to your car so friends and family can easily find you.
- Have time: Prepare to get there early and stay late. Relax and enjoy the ride!
- Bring extra: You might make new friends at the event, so be sure to bring plenty of food and even more beer.
- Bring your own shade: Bring a pop-up tent to protect you from the sun or other natural elements.
- Make a list: Before you go, make a list of everything you don’t want to forget. Some important items might include:
- Paper towels
- Hand sanitizer
- Insect repellent
- Toilet paper
4. Tips for Making This the Best Experience Possible
We’ve covered most of the things you need to know to survive the Daytona 500. To sum it all up, here are a few extra tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t forget binoculars and a portable radio.
- Wear your most comfortable shoes.
- Bring earplugs just in case.
- Bring markers and a piece of memorabilia for drivers to sign. If you follow the event on Twitter, you might catch some insider tips.
- Bring snacks and drinks with you to enjoy during the race. For a list of items you cannot bring into the seating area, check the site.
- Try to pack as light possible.
- Get there as early as possible.
- Have maps handy. Figure out direction details before the trip to avoid confusion and frustration on the day of the event.
The more you prepare, the more time you’ll have to relax and enjoy the big day. Most importantly, be prepared to deal with unexpected frustrations — you’ll be around thousands of other people who also can’t wait to settle down and start the festivities. Just remember: you’re all there for the love of speed!
Start Your Engines at Raceline Direct
Let your heart race with excitement for the Daytona 500 and get in the spirit at Raceline Direct. We offer everything you need to show your love of the fastest sport on the planet. Whether you’re looking for a hooded Chase Elliott sweatshirt to keep you warm once the sun sets or a NASCAR folding tailgate chair to show your support and be comfortable, we’ve got you covered.
Get ready to go to the race in style. Visit our online store or request a free catalog today!
If you don’t know much about the world of NASCAR, you might wonder what to get the NASCAR loving fan. Or maybe you’re also a NASCAR fan yourself and know the favorite driver of every family member and friend. If you purchase a NASCAR gift for the holidays or other special times throughout the year, it’s important to personalize your gifts with thought and consideration.
When you’re getting gifts for racing fans within your family or group of friends, be sure to know who his or her favorite NASCAR driver is before you shop. Ask if they’ll be going to any NASCAR races during the season and use that to guide your gift shopping. If they’re going to a race in warm or cool weather, that will influence what the best gift will be. Knowing their clothing size is important if you’ll be getting them apparel, but there are also many options for gifts for him or her that don’t require a size.
Buying NASCAR gifts can make you quite popular around the house. Here are a few presents for men and women who can’t get enough NASCAR.
For the NASCAR fan, the best way to stay warm during the holidays and into the New Year is in a NASCAR jacket. The best NASCAR jackets sport the names and numbers of star racers as well as the logos and colors of various NASCAR sponsors. Jackets can be heavy or lightweight and come in a wide range of sizes and styles:
- NASCAR uniform jackets — Wish your loved one could dress like your favorite NASCAR racer? Now they can, with a jacket of choice from the line of 2017 NASCAR uniform jackets. Each jacket bears the colors and sponsor logos of individual NASCAR stars, such as the black/orange, Hooters-emblazoned Chase Elliott and the yellow/black M&M’s-adorned Kyle Busch.
- Monster Energy Jacket — If you’re wondering what to get a guy who loves cars, you can’t go wrong with this gift. Made of cotton trill, the black men’s jacket is embroidered with the lime/white logo for the 2017 Monster Energy series.
- NASCAR fleece-lined jackets — If you’d like to show NASCAR appreciation in a less-showy type of jacket, the current array of fleece-lined jackets should be right up your loved one’s alley. Made of nylon exterior and poly interior, these outer black/inner gray jackets are adorned with the names and numbers of select NASCAR stars.
- Chevy and Ford Racing Fleece Jackets — Perhaps your recipient loves all the NASCAR racers equally? Or maybe they’d like to show support for the NASCAR sponsors. These fleece-lined Chevy and Ford jackets are designed to keep fans warm throughout the winter.
- NASCAR hooded sweatshirt jackets — One of the most casual, comfy ways to show love for NASCAR this winter is in a cotton/poly zip-up hooded sweatshirt, which are available in Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson name/number designs.
One of the cozier wintertime apparel options for the NASCAR lover is a sweatshirt emblazoned with his or her favorite driver. The range of NASCAR sweatshirts includes hooded and crewneck varieties. Whether the NASCAR fan in your family follows Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski or other drivers there is sure to be a perfect fit for them:
- NASCAR Gray Hooded Sweatshirt — If your NASCAR lover digs the color gray and feels partial to racers like Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski, the current line of gray NASCAR hoodies will be right up their alley.
- NASCAR Driver Hooded Sweatshirts — Similar to the gray hoodies but with darker colors and more vibrant logos, this array of NASCAR hooded sweatshirts has something for fans of select star racers — Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and more — as well as for fans of the brand itself.
- NASCAR Crewneck Sweatshirts — If the NASCAR lover in your life favors the color blue and likes Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Chase Elliott, the NASCAR crewneck sweatshirt — emblazoned with the name, number and an image of the vehicle of the racer in question — would make the perfect gift.
- NASCAR sweatpants — In the colder months, NASCAR-themed sweatpants pair perfectly with a sweatshirt and are a great gift for physically active fans of racing. Available in blue, black and gray, NASCAR sweatpants come in a range of print designs. Some pairs sport the numbers of star racers while others feature the NASCAR logo itself. Made of cotton and poly blends, NASCAR sweatpants are a comfortable and practical wintertime clothing option.
NASCAR Gifts for Under $50
Turn your loved one’s house into a NASCAR shrine with chairs, flags and wall clocks dedicated to their favorite racers. Available for less than $50, these gift ideas make it easy for anyone to bring an empty, unfurnished room to life:
- NASCAR tailgate chairs ($35) — Throw a backyard party or barbecue with fellow NASCAR fans with this line of folding poly seat-and-arms tailgate chairs.
- NASCAR flags ($39) — Does your loved one have white space on their walls? Fill it out with these 3′ x 5′ NASCAR flags — there’s one for Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- NASCAR wall clocks ($29) — Your loved one will never lose track of the time of day, regardless of what room they’re in, with a NASCAR wall clock in honor of each of their favorite racers.
NASCAR Gifts for Under $25
Whether you’re looking to stay within budget or get more bang for your buck this holiday season, gifts for racing fans are perfect for the NASCAR enthusiasts on your shopping list. From calendars and ornaments to clocks and apparel, explore NASCAR gifts for under $25.
This holiday season, as you decorate and fill the house with great-tasting goodies, consider NASCAR gifts for your dad, mom, son, daughter, sibling or significant other. These NASCAR gift ideas are all affordable:
- NASCAR calendars ($14) — There’s no better way for a racing fan to start off the New Year than with a 2018 NASCAR calendar. NASCAR 2018 calendars are available at just $14 each. Whether the NASCAR fan in your life is loyal to Chase Elliott or Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Kevin Harvick, each calendar contains 12 months of photos of the NASCAR star of choice. Are they a fan of multiple drivers? There are also options for NASCAR tracks and a calendar that includes all the NASCAR stars.
- NASCAR ornaments ($9) – If you’re looking to brighten up your loved one’s Christmas tree with a NASCAR theme, we sell a vast selection of NASCAR Christmas ornaments that feature the number, vehicle and likeness of star drivers. At only $9 each, NASCAR Christmas ornaments are perfect decorations for a tree, wreaths or any other part of the house.
- NASCAR hats and caps ($12-$25) — One of the most casual ways to broadcast a love of NASCAR and its drivers is with a NASCAR cap. Made of embroidered cotton twill and joined at the back with Velcro, NASCAR caps sport the numbers and colors of various racing stars, including Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and more.
- NASCAR mugs ($14 or less) — For the NASCAR fan, nothing gets the day going like a tall java served up in a NASCAR-themed mug. If the NASCAR fan in your life likes coffee on the go, NASCAR mugs could be the perfect gift, and they are $14 or less. Travel mugs with the numbers and colors of Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and various others are currently available, as are coffee mugs for Danica Patrick, Martin Truex Jr. and other star racers.
- NASCAR can clock ($8) — For convenient time-checking in the kitchen or at a desk, NASCAR can clocks are the perfect inexpensive gift. Measuring 3.5 inches and featuring a retractable stand and magnetic back, the NASCAR can clock runs on a single AA battery. Available with the NASCAR logo and with star players’ numbers and colors, can clocks can be mounted onto refrigerators or any flat surface. These clocks are just $8.
- NASCAR socks ($12) —Fans of racing stars like Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch will like socks that bear their numbers and colors keep feet warm and cozy. NASCAR socks are the perfect way to stay warm in the winter and show support for a favorite racing star in the spring and autumn months.
- NASCAR license plate frames ($19) — The NASCAR fan in your life can express their enthusiasm in the vehicle they drive with a NASCAR plate frame. Measuring 6 by 12 inches and made of metal, NASCAR plate frames are built to withstand the elements. Whether your loved one is a fan of Tony Stewart or Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott or Kevin Kahne, they can show off their fandom on the front of their car, van or truck.
NASCAR Gifts for Christmas for Everyone
In NASCAR-loving households, few things can make the holidays merrier than NASCAR gifts for Christmas. Whether there’s just one fan in the house or everyone loves NASCAR equally, any gift that bears the number, colors or likeness of a favorite racer is sure to put a smile on someone’s face. Of all the NASCAR gift ideas, few things can give a fan a greater opportunity to express their enthusiasm than the following NASCAR apparel options:
- NASCAR diecasts — Let your loved one display the car of their favorite NASCAR racer on their desk, shelf or drawer top. NASCAR diecasts are 1:24-scale, open trunk/hood replicas of the famed racing cars of some of NASCAR’s biggest stars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin.
- NASCAR long-sleeve shirts — A warmer alternative to the T-shirt line is the unique range of NASCAR long-sleeve shirts available during the Christmas season. Featured among this line are the bright red Dale Earnhardt Jr. long-sleeve as well as the flashy blue Kyle Busch long-sleeve, which feature the drivers’ vehicles and sponsor logos on the front and the drivers’ numbers on the back.
- NASCAR tote bags — Let your fan carry all their tailgating gear in NASCAR Tote Bagsavailable this holiday season. Made in screen-printed polyester and measuring 22 by 16 by 5 inches, tote bags are convenient for shopping, picnics and casual carrying. In addition to the Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. tote bags, there are also 11-by-12-by-5-inch clear totes with Earnhardt and NASCAR logo themes.
- NASCAR collectors helmets — For the NASCAR fan who wants to step into the shoes of their favorite racer, nothing beats having a replica NASCAR collector’s helmet. Designed to mimic the helmets of some of NASCAR’s biggest stars, each helmet looks exactly like those worn by the best drivers in the sport. Helmets for Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are available.
NASCAR Gifts for Kids
For the younger NASCAR fan, there are dozens of gift options this holiday season. Explore the best selection of NASCAR gifts for toddlers, tweens and teens. Whether you’re getting a small child into NASCAR for the first time or helping your teen build their NASCAR collection, gifts that bear the numbers, colors and faces of famous racers are always good choices for your shopping list.
For the young or budding NASCAR fan in your life, consider the following holiday gift options:
- NASCAR backpacks — A handy accessory for camping and hiking trips as well as for carrying books and supplies on school days, NASCAR backpacks are the perfect gift for children ages four and up. Made with nylon and measuring 14 by 16 inches, backpacks feature the numbers, colors and signatures of NASCAR stars like Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well as a backpack showing the NASCAR logo.
- NASCAR stand-ups and cutouts — Fun gifts for NASCAR fans, stand-ups are life-size versions of their favorite drivers. Mini cutouts are made of cardboard and stand approximately 13 inches tall. A perfect fixture for tables, drawers and desktops, NASCAR cutouts bear the likenesses of some of the racing world’s top stars.
- NASCAR fleece throw — Perfect for cuddling up on the couch or using to complete bedroom NASCAR decor, NASCAR throws are 50-by-60-inch polyester pieces adorned with the numbers and colors of select racers. If the teen or tween in your house is a fan of Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jimmie Johnson, this is an ideal NASCAR gift.
NASCAR Gift Shopping All in One Place
Whether you’re looking for the gift for the #1 NASCAR fan out there or searching for an affordable gift for each of your NASCAR-loving family members and friends, you’ll find what you need at Raceline Direct. You can save money when you get all your NASCAR shopping done in one spot, because orders of $99 or more ship to you free.
As one of the world’s most captivating sports, NASCAR continues to gain new fans of all ages with each passing year. To stay updated with the latest NASCAR gear available from Raceline Direct, sign up for our newsletter today.
We are less than one month away from finding out who the next NASCAR champion will be. With a little more than three weeks away from the final race at Homestead, the racing intensifies as we are left with only eight drivers battling it out.
The field is composed of four past champions, most notably Jimmie Johnson, the defending champion, looking to break the historic record he currently shares with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. With the season coming to an end, there will be a lot of eyes on Johnson to see if he can make history.
Two young stars, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott, saw their way to the next round after strong top 5 finishes at Kansas and will continue to battle it out with some of the sport’s more seasoned vets. After starting at the rear of the field, Blaney finished the race with an impressive third place finish to get him through to the next round.
While Kansas gave Martin Truex Jr. his whopping seventh win of the season, the track didn’t return the good luck to all drivers. Kyle Larson, a fan favorite and strong contender got his first career engine failure at a pretty bad time causing him to miss out on the next round. A massive wreck swallowed up Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth, ending both of their Championship hopes. Stenhouse Jr. ended up in the wall in a separate incident causing him to miss out as well.
Moving forward, the drivers will head to Martinsville this Sunday, followed by Texas and Phoenix before their last showdown at Homestead. As the action on the track heats up, racing fans are getting ready for what is expected to be the most exciting postseason yet!
As soon as the points are totaled and a winner is declared, Raceline Direct is your headquarters for all 2017 Monster Energy Series Championship gear! For the official Cap, Championship T-Shirt, Winner Sweatshirt and more, shop with us!
While the weather outside starts to cool down, the action on the track keeps heating up.
With three races completed in the NASCAR Playoffs, only 12 drivers remain in contention to win the 2017 Championship. After Kyle Busch took home the checked flag on Sunday at Dover, Newman, Dillon, Kahne, and Kurt Busch were eliminated on points.
This weekend, the drivers will head to Charlotte where they will be fighting for a win to clinch a spot in the Round of 8. Kyle Busch will not only be looking for his third consecutive victory, but he will attempt to be the first driver in history to snatch a win at every active NASCAR track. He will be battling it out against the current points leader Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson who has a record eight career victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Chase Elliott will be racing for his first career victory after he got passed late by Busch on Sunday to finish second.
After the action in Charlotte on Sunday, the drivers will head off to Talladega next week, followed by Kansas, where four more drivers will be eliminated after the race.
With 12 drivers left, it is still anyone’s Championship and one bad mistake can cost a sure favorite like Harvick or Johnson who is on the prowl for his record 8th career championship, a spot in the next round.
Each race matters more and more as the drivers get closer to a showdown in Homestead. As the playoffs heat up, we can sit back and count on one thing; some excellent racing from the best drivers in the world.
It’s Playoff season in NASCAR! As the weather cools, each race brings us closer and closer to finding the new NASCAR Champion who will be crowned at Homestead in November. Sixteen hungry drivers entered the playoffs but only one will do the honors of lifting the Championship trophy.
So who is most likely to win the Championship? A safe bet would be last year’s winner Jimmie Johnson who has his eyes set on a record eighth title in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series. The 48 car always seems to get the job done when it matters most and is one of the favorites to repeat as NASCAR Champion.
Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson are two drivers still looking for their first title who have been dominating this year. The pair have combined for 9 wins so far and lead the standings, showing no signs of letting up their dominance anytime soon. Fan-favorite Chase Elliott while still looking for his first win, currently sits in ninth and is another popular choice to win it all at the end. Other drivers racing for the title include Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Matt Kenseth, all of whom have been NASCAR champions in the past.
This weekend, the drivers head to Dover where four drivers will see their Championship dreams come to an end. Dover has seen Jimmie Johnson win eleven times in his career and it would certainly be no surprise to anyone if his Chevrolet was back in Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon.
Currently below the cut-off line are Dillon, Newman, Kurt Busch, and Kahne. Former champion Kurt Busch had some bad luck at New Hampshire last weekend after his teammate Kevin Harvick spun out in front of him causing Busch to crash and finish 37th. Kahne who currently sits last in the standings brought out a caution on lap 262 and ended up in the garage on Sunday with a mechanical issue after running inside the top 15. Busch and Kahne almost certainly will need a win at Dover in order to advance them into the next round of the playoffs.
After the field narrows to twelve drivers, the following three races will be at Charlotte, Talladega, and Kansas. Talladega is a track that can drastically shake up the standings as one big crash can ruin many drivers day and cost them a chance at the Championship.
With the season starting to come to an end, each race becomes more and more important towards crowning a Champion. Will this be the year where Johnson sets the record, or will fans see one of the young stars of the sport win their first championship? With sixteen drivers still remaining, we must watch until November to find out who the next NASCAR champ will be.
Kyle Busch used a bump-and-run on Kevin Harvick to take the lead and held on to snap a 36-race losing streak and win the NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday.
Busch won for the first time this season in the No. 18 Toyota and won for the first time ever at Pocono. Busch led more than 1,000 laps this season entering the race. He was racing for the lead last weekend in the Brickyard 400 when he wrecked with Martin Truex Jr., which led to a pit road altercation between members of both teams.
Busch won from the pole and gave Toyota its 100th Cup win since its 2007 debut.
Busch, the 2015 Cup champion, had never gone a full season without winning a race. Charlotte Motor Speedway is now the only track where he’s failed to win.
“I never thought this day would happen,” Busch said.
He also won his 176th career NASCAR race over the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series.
“We’ve all been fighting all year long and just wasn’t sure why,” Busch said. “This is something I’ve been waiting for for a long, long time. It’s been a frustrating year but an awesome day today.”
Harvick finished second, followed by Truex, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski. Harvick, who hasn’t won in 34 career races at Pocono, said he had nothing for Busch down the stretch.
“There was no battle. He was way faster than we were,” Harvick said.
Busch had seven top-five finishes and was runner-up to Austin Dillon in the Coca-Cola 600. All the near misses have gnawed at Busch, who won the All-Star race. He won for the first time since the 2016 Brickyard 400.
Many people often think that driving a car is easy, and to some extent it is. However, most people will see a NASCAR race on TV and think that it is the same thing as our everyday driving, just a lot faster. That is not the case.
In NASCAR, the drivers are usually driving at a speed between 160-200 mph. As fun as we think this may be, there is actually much more responsibility to it than you would think. Now, obviously if you’re driving a car going 200 mph you have to be pretty responsible, but there is so much more that goes into the art of being a NASCAR driver.
First of all, let me just say that training to become a NASCAR driver is usually a lifelong commitment. Therefore, the younger you are when you start training, the better off you’ll be when you finally get to put your skills to the test. Some of the best drivers that have come out of NASCAR have been training since they were toddlers.
Training to become a NASCAR driver is much more than just learning how to drive a fast car. It is training yourself to have incredibly quick reflexes, allowing you to drive at 200 mph while being only inches away from your opponent. It is learning to have patience with your car and with the way things go. When you’re used to going that fast, it is hard not to expect everything to be that way, however, patience is a really good attribute for a racer to have. It is important for the driver to learn the way the car works and the best move to make next. It is expecting the best, but being prepared for the worst. When you’re driving for hours on end, at speeds that fast and with multiple people driving around you, it is common to have a wreck. In these situations, the driver needs to be able to stay calm, cool and collected in order to have less damage to themselves, their cars and their opponents.
If you’re thinking that all of these skills are acquired over night, think again! These skills take years of practice and can be achieved in many different ways.
To start, most racers will race go-karts competitively. No, I’m not talking about the little go-karts that you see at amusement parks. I’m talking about high end go-karts that can reach up to speeds around 100 mph. Although practicing this can be fun, the racers are mainly participating in this because many of the skills they learn during these races will be used later on in their professional careers.
For the racers who choose not to race go-karts, they’ll usually partake in what is called “midget racing”. This form of racing is just like go-karts, but with larger and more powerful vehicles. By practicing driving with more powerful vehicles, the racers get a better grip on how to handle not only a larger vehicle that is moving that fast, but also an average sized vehicle traveling at those speeds.
Another form of training that drivers may use, although a little less realistic, are training simulations. Many racers or racing trainees will use a handful of different NASCAR driving games on their personal computers or other gaming devices to keep their minds moving and their thought process on track. Most of these games come with a steering device and pedal to use which gives the players a more realistic experience, mimicking the sounds and sights that are close to what they would see at a real race. However, there are schools and simulations specific for the practice of NASCAR driving.
One of the most realistic simulation machines is called the CXC Motion Pro II. This is the only professional-level simulator that is practical for home use. It is the most advanced racing simulator that is on the market. The simulation is built to make the person using it feel as if they are truly in the driver’s seat. By using this simulation, it reinforces all of the skills that a NASCAR driver needs to have. The simulator covers every aspect of driving on a real track. It uses a low-mass motion system, multiple vibration replicators, adjustable tension in the seat belts integrated with a panoramic screen and powerful sound systems to allow the driver to feel everything in a “breathtaking, hair-raisingly realistic way”. The use of this simulator would help either a future or current driver to feel the strain that driving can have on your body and also remind the driver of the necessary skills they need to have and be practicing constantly in order to keep their minds and bodies in shape.
As you can see, driving is only a small part of actually being a NASCAR driver. There are so many things that are added to the equation. Being at the track can be overwhelming, so it is important for drivers to get acclimated with the sights, sounds and smells. To do this, drivers can just throw themselves into all things racing. If their lives weren’t already devoted to the sport enough, just add this to the list! Future drivers should spend a lot of time at the track, even if it is just their local one down the street, it is important for them to get used to the entire atmosphere of that lifestyle. They should watch races on T.V, read books, magazines, and websites devoted to racing and keep up with the sport. By this, I mean they should read stats and listen to the interviews that drivers give after the races. Someone who is an aspiring NASCAR driver should immerse themselves in the sport. By doing this, the normal processes will become second nature.
With practicing these techniques to become more affiliated with the sport, drivers are strengthening the mental skills that are necessary to become a NASCAR driver. However, it is not enough for them to just practice the mental skills. Driving a race car is a lot more taxing on the body than you would expect. It is important for future and current drivers to make sure that they are physically strong as well. Now, I’m not saying that they need to spend four hours a day in the gym trying to get the perfect physique. What I am saying is that driving for NASCAR is very straining on the body. Think about it, as a driver, you are driving hundreds of miles for hours at a time at speeds between 160 and 200 mph. Not to mention that you are surrounded by other drivers who want nothing more than to see you in their rear view. For hours you’re battling with not only the drivers next to you, but also your own car. A driver needs good stamina and upper body strength to be able to wrestle with their steering wheel for hours on end. Also, at any point in the race the drivers car can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit with the only form of air conditioning being a “fresh air vent” tube that blows cool air on the driver.
While watching the races, on T.V. or at an actual race, none of these characteristics are really shown. Granted, if you’re studying racing or have grown up watching it, you may know what a driver has to go through. However, for those of us who aren’t extremely educated on the art of being a NASCAR driver, all of these skills can be easily overlooked.
Getting run into by teammate Jimmie Johnson wasn’t how Dale Earnhardt Jr. envisioned beginning his retirement tour, but that’s the situation Earnhardt found himself in during Sunday’s NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway.
Earnhardt was running the upper groove around the three-quarter mile track with 43 laps remaining in the Toyota Owners 400, when Johnson’s No. 48 car abruptly body-slammed the No. 88 car as Earnhardt sped off Turn 2. The contact was significant and pushed Earnhardt into the wall, causing further damage.
Johnson was on newer tires and attempting to pass Earnhardt, who was on much older tires due to an aggressive pit strategy employed by crew chief Greg Ives. Earnhardt said spotter T.J. Majors had alerted him that Johnson was passing.
“(Johnson) said he didn’t see us,” Earnhardt said. “He had pitted and got tires and we were out there running around the top and weren’t ready to pit yet. He said he didn’t get any notice that he had a car outside.
“It was an explosion.”
Johnson took full responsibility for the accident, immediately radioing to his No. 48 team that he didn’t know Earnhardt was to his outside and then apologizing post-race. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates spoke on pit road after the race concluded to review the collision and there were no hard feelings between the two.
Earnhardt announced Tuesday he would retire from full time racing at the end of the current year. He hoped the news would spark a turnaround for what has been a lackluster start to the season.
Instead, Richmond represented a continuation of what has been frustrating season where the No. 88 Chevrolet has regularly lacked competitiveness, and Earnhardt often inflicted by bad luck when he’s had a car possessing speed. On Sunday, Earnhardt spent much of the race outside the top 15, prompting Ives’ pit strategy gamble.
Earnhardt now has finished 30th or worse in five of nine races this season, and ranks 24th in the points standings. He trails Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by 60 points for the final provisional playoff berth.
“Just terrible luck,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t know what to do. But, we were probably going to finish anywhere around 10th to 15th today — not all that awesome — but we just had such terrible luck.”
Raceline Direct has a new Dale Earnhardt Jr. T-shirt available, commemorating his retirement featuring a quote from his press conference. See it here: https://www.racelinedirect.com/4874-JUN-prod.html
Hendrick Motorsports made the huge announcement today that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made the decision to retire from NASCAR after the 2017 season is over. ESPN shared that Dale has decided to move on, but he will finish out the season and hopefully going out with a bang. His contract expires at the end of this season, and so far, Hendrick Motorsports has not shared who will replace him on the track. This announcement should be coming soon as well.
Just one month ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. revealed that he had plans to talk to team owner Rick Hendrick about extending his contract, but for some reason, that plan changed. Carl Edwards made a decision not long ago to move on, and at the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared his thoughts about leaving the racing world.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also owns a team in the Xfinity Series. Racing is in his blood, and he will likely continue to be part of the racing world in some way, even if he isn’t going to be on the track each week. Earnhardt was voted the most popular driver 14 times by NASCAR fans since his racing career began in 1999. He is a third-generation driver, and he made his mark on the XFINITY tour before joining NASCAR. The start of his career was hard with the death of his father in a last-lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. After leaving his father’s racing team that his stepmother runs, Dale Earnhardt Jr. started driving for team owner Rick Hendrick and is now in his tenth season driving for them.
Hendrick Motorsports announced the news on Tuesday in a press release, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn’t given his own statements and explained his decision. Everyone is waiting to hear what he has to say about this life changing choice. Earnhardt should be giving a statement to fans at some point.
Hendrick Motorsports founder and owner Rick Hendrick said Tuesday he’s talking with his sponsors about who will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car for 2018 and beyond.
“We’ve got a lot of people to consider, meaning partners, like our sponsors, and we’ve just been talking to them,” Hendrick said. “Priority one is to get everything prepared, get the day over with, and then we’ll take the time to decide what we do there.”
Hendrick Motorsports has a couple of talented young drivers under contract already.
Jimmie Johnson still knows how to get to Victory Lane at Texas, even from the back of the field on a track that had changed significantly since his first six wins there.
And while heating up in the cockpit because of an issue with getting fluids during the race.
“I’m not feeling the best, but we got into Victory Lane,” Johnson said before going to the infield care center to get three bags of IV fluids after his 81st career victory.
“I feel much better now,” he said after the treatment.
Crew chief Chad Knaus said there was some kind of malfunction with the system in the car, but wasn’t sure what the problem was.
“Jimmie felt like it was an isolated situation,” Knaus said. “We got him cooled off and he’s looking good. He’s ready to go have a weekend off like the rest of us.”
Johnson, who last year won his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series season championship, charged under Joey Logano with 16 laps to go to take the lead. The Hendrick Motorsports driver kept his No. 48 Chevrolet in front.
“I guess I remembered how to drive; and I guess this team remembered how to do it,” Johnson said. “I’m just real proud of this team. What a tough track and tough conditions. We were really in our wheelhouse and we were just able to execute all day.”
This was the first Cup race in Texas since the 1 1/2-mile facility was completely repaved and changes made to Turns 1 and 2 earlier this year. It was Johnson’s seventh victory at Texas, six in the last 10 races there.
Kyle Larson, the season points leader, finished second for the fourth time this year, but also won at California. Logano, polesitter Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five.
Johnson had to start at the back of the 40-car field because of a tire change after a spin in qualifying. He had qualified 24th.
“Oh, probably on the second or third run I knew we were in good shape. From there, off we went,” he said. “It was so tough those first 23 laps in traffic. The air was very turbulent, the track wasn’t very clean.”
Johnson’s only top-10 finish in the first six races this season had been ninth at Phoenix. Earnhardt, his Hendrick teammate, had his first top-five finish since a runner-up at Pocono last June, not long before he missed the last half of the season because of lingering concussions symptoms.
Ryan Blaney won the first two stages and gave Wood Brothers Racing, the oldest active team in NASCAR, its longest front-running car in a race in 35 years. The 23-year-old Blaney finished 12th after leading 148 of 334 laps, the first time the team led more than 100 laps in a race since 1982.
Blaney first got the lead on the second early restart on lap 16, with a somewhat bold move around the outside of Harvick going through the reconfigured Turns 1 and 2, where the banking was reduced and the track widened.
During a caution on a few laps before the end of the second stage on lap 170, Blaney stayed on the track for a shot to win the stage while other cars pitted. Blaney restarted 20th after that stage and his stop, but after working back into the top 10, he overslid his pit on the last caution.
“That last pit stop was pretty discouraging,” Blaney said. “I don’t know what it was there at the end of segment two and that made everybody have split strategies, and we got in the back and couldn’t pass anybody. It was terrible to try to pass people.”