NEW YORK (November 19, 2015) -- Anheuser-Busch announced today a multi-year partnership renewal with Daytona International Speedway (DIS) that extends its status as the exclusive official beer sponsor of DIS and the DAYTONA 500 . The partnership will also provide Anheuser-Busch with naming rights to four locations within the new motorsports stadium as part of the DAYTONA Rising redevelopment project, which is scheduled to open in January 2016. Two of the bar locations to be featured in the new "World Center of Racing" central "neighborhood" zone and spacious concourses, while the other two will be located in other parts of the stadium. All four locations will enable Anheuser-Busch to advertise multiple brands from its portfolio of beers including Busch, Budweiser, Bud Light and Stella Artois. Anheuser-Busch will also retain naming rights to the infield area -- the Budweiser Bistro. " Daytona International Speedway has been a tremendous partner for Anheuser-Busch ever since we first introduced the Busch Clash back in 1979, which was held each year at DIS the week prior to the DAYTONA 500 ," said Nick Kelly, director of experiential marketing, Anheuser-Busch. "We're looking forward to continuing this relationship that allows us to have a significant marketing presence at the track, and now we'll be able to deliver an elevated experience to our fans as a result of the DAYTONA Rising project." Anheuser-Busch's partnership with DIS continues a period of investment and rededication to the sport of racing. The Busch family of beers recently announced it is reigniting its storied past in NASCAR by sponsoring Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team of Stewart-Haas Racing for select races during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season beginning with the Sprint Unlimited at DIS on Feb. 13. In conjunction, Anheuser-Busch will employ a comprehensive marketing approach to celebrate Busch’s return to the sport of racing, including on-track, experiential, in-market and retail activations, as well as TV spots leading up to the DAYTONA 500 . "We're thrilled to kick off the next chapter of our longstanding partnership with Anheuser-Busch," said Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III. "Our new motorsports stadium will provide enhanced opportunities to market their brands and connect with race fans." Anheuser-Busch shares a rich history with the sport of racing as well as DIS, dating back to the late 1970s. This represents the longest-standing partnership for DIS. For more information on Anheuser-Busch, visit www.anheuser-busch.com . To learn more about DIS, please visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com .
Crash that broke his leg and foot, journey back to racing SHOP: Busch gear Nov. 22: Busch wins first Sprint Cup Series championship In a season fit for the silver screen, Kyle Busch completes his emotional comeback from a devastating season-opening injury to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. " Read the full story " Final 2015 standings Nov. 22: Busch wins title with victory at Homestead-Miami Driver Kyle Busch caps an amazing comeback, winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 to hold off fellow Championship 4 contenders Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . " Read the full story " Complete race results Aug. 9: Busch breaks into top 30 in drivers points standings A runner-up finish at Watkins Glen pushed Kyle Busch into 30th place in the Sprint Cup points standings, a requirement of eligibility for him for the Chase. With four race wins under his belt, he must remain in the top 30 to make the Chase. " Read the full story " Full race results July 11: Kyle Busch wins Sprint Cup race at Kentucky A second win helps Kyle Busch 's chances of cracking the top 30 in points, the second condition he must meet to make the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup . " Read the full story " Full race results June 28: Kyle Busch wins Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Needing victory to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup , Kyle Busch got the victory at Sonoma , a track that had been a concern as he continues to recover because the road course is so physically demanding. " Read the full story " Full race results June 13: Kyle Busch wins XFINITY race at Michigan Kyle Busch goes to Victory Lane in his first race back in the XFINITY Series after breaking his leg and left foot at Daytona . " Read the full story " Full race results May 24: Kyle Busch completes Coca-Cola 600 , finishes 11th Kyle Busch makes his Sprint Cup points race debut for the season in the Coca-Cola 600 , climbing to second place before fuel strategy led to an 11th-place finish. " Read the full story May 18: Kyle, Samantha Busch welcome first baby Driver Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, had their first child, a boy, at 9:45 p.m. May 18. Brexton Locke Busch is his name. " Read the full story May 16: Busch finishes sixth in All-Star race After a pleasing top-10 run in his first race back from leg and foot injuries, Kyle Busch looks forward to running in the Coca-Cola 600 " Read the full story May 13: Kyle Busch granted Chase waiver NASCAR has granted Kyle Busch a waiver for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Find out what he has to do to make the Chase. " Read the full story " Official NASCAR release " Cain: Making Chase will cap comeback May 12: Kyle Busch announces return After missing 11 events to open the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season following his injury at Daytona , Kyle Busch has set his return for the Sprint All-Star Race on May 16. " Read the full story " Drivers react to news of Busch's return " Herman Unplugged: Reaction to Busch's return " Busch's return a hot topic at Dover test May 9: Jones' promising run crashes at Kansas Making his first Sprint Cup start filling in for the injured Kyle Busch , Erik Jones was working on a great run at Kansas until he found the wall late in the race. " Read the full story April 16: Accident leads Busch to become unexpected safety advocate NASCAR.com's Holly Cain tells the story of how Kyle Busch 's wreck at Daytona has changed the Joe Gibbs Racing driver into a saftey advocate for the sport. Busch talks about how impressed he was of the breadth and depth of detailed information that has been gathered from his accident. " Read the full story April 16: Busch family bonds, finds strength in recovery With a baby on the way, the Busch family discuss how they've worked as a team to recover from Kyle's injury while prepping to expand their family. The parents-to-be explain that it hasn't been easy, but they're counting their blessings. " Read the full story April 15: Kyle Busch analyzes tape of his wreck Kyle Busch holds his first press conference after his crash at Daytona and uses video to break down his thought process as the wreck unfolded. His doctors are pleased with his progress, but he has no timeline for returning to driving. " Read the full story " Herman Unplugged: Busch should sit out 2015 April 15: Kyle Busch responds to Keselowski blog During his first press conference after his Daytona crash, Kyle Busch also addressed his long-running feud with fellow Sprint Cup driver Brad Keselowski . " Watch the video " More on Keselowski's blog April 15: Kyle Busch , wife discuss crash, impending parenthood In an interview with Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC, Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha discussed the driver's accident at Daytona in February " Read the full story March 20: Kyle Busch takes next step in recovery Kyle Busch posts a video on Facebook of himself moving around a bit with the aid of a walker, along with encouragement from his wife, Samantha, and their dog. " Read the full story March 17: KBM drivers keep in touch Daniel Suarez says his team owner's advice is invaluable. And Justin Boston reports Busch is 'recovering quickly.' " Read the full story March 14: Kurt Busch hopes brother doesn't rush return Kurt Busch says, 'You can't rush the healing of bones and surgeries.' And teammate Denny Hamlin says Kyle Busch is staying engaged with the No. 18 team despite being sidelined. " Read the full story March 11: Kyle Busch , Samantha, visit KBM Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha, take a field trip to Kyle Busch Motorsports and tell the team, 'Progress is going well.' " Read the full story March 10: Busch gets walking boots Kyle Busch gets soft casts removed from both legs and moves up to walking boots, which Samantha Busch dubs 'Terminator boots' in a Twitter photo. " Read the full story March 2: Subs announced for No. 54 XFINITY Toyota Denny Hamlin , Erik Jones and Boris Said are tapped as substitute drivers for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 NASCAR XFINITY Series Toyota. "Get Well Kyle" stickers adorn the No. 54. " Read the full story Feb. 27: Kyle Busch heads home after second surgery After a second surgery to treat his injuries, Kyle Busch was in a Charlotte hospital for observation for two days before being cleared to go home. The No. 18 racing team put a "Get well Kyle" on the rear bumper of the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the Atlanta race. " Read the full story Feb. 25: Kyle Busch has successful surgery on left foot Joe Gibbs Racing announces that Kyle Busch underwent a successful surgery on his left foot at a Charlotte hospital. " Read the full story Feb. 24: Kyle Busch leaves Florida hospital Kyle Busch was released from Halifax Health Medical Center. He boarded a plane on a stretcher and was transferred to a North Carolina hospital for further treatment of multiple leg injuries. " Read the full story Feb. 24: David Ragan to sub for Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing announces that David Ragan will sub for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota for several weeks, starting at Atlanta Motor Speedway . " Read the full story Feb. 24: ISC working on 'significant plan' for safer barriers In the wake of Kyle Busch 's severe crash and resulting injuries during the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway , International Speedway Corporation announces a plan to expand its use of impact-diffusing barriers at its 12 tracks. " Read the full story Feb. 22: Joe Gibbs says Busch's surgery went well Team owner Joe Gibbs gives an update on Kyle Busch 's status after surgery and says he is 'resting comfortably.' Doctors reported that things went well with surgery on Busch's lower right leg. " Read the full story Feb. 22: Samantha Busch gives update from hospital Samantha Busch posts a selfie with Kyle Busch from his hospital bed on Twitter with a tweet saying, "Getting ready to watch the Daytona 500 ! Cheering on our 18 boys!" " Read the full story Feb. 21: Drivers wish Kyle Busch well after hard hit Kyle Busch is taken to the hospital by ambulance after a big wreck during the XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . Fellow drivers sent well-wishes via Twitter. " Read the full story Feb. 21: Hard hit sidelines Kyle Busch for Daytona 500 A crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race caused NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch to miss the Daytona 500 after suffering injuries to his right leg and left foot a day before the Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway . " Read the full story
You've heard of the Daytona 500 -- now there's the Country 500 . Both events even take place at the same venue. Daytona International Speedway announced Thursday that it will host the inaugural Country 500 music festival May 27-29, 2016. The Memorial Day weekend festival will feature performances by Luke Bryan, Florida George Line, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson and more. "We're proud to develop this new partnership … and bring the Country 500 music festival to Daytona International Speedway ," track president Joie Chitwood III said. "Signature events such as the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona have made DIS the 'World Center of Racing' but by securing this marquee music festival with an amazing lineup of artists, we will also be known as the 'World Center of Entertainment.' " The complete lineup, including the Friday night headliner, will be unveiled Nov. 3 -- the same day tickets go on sale. The acts will perform on three massive performance stages throughout the infield of Daytona , which is hosting its first mega-music festival in this event. Like a NASCAR weekend, fans can camp out in the infield, either in tents or RVs. For more information on the lineup and to buy tickets, visit Country500.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE COUNTRY 500 “The Great American Music Fest at Daytona ” Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson and 40 More Stars To Rock Daytona International Speedway Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29, 2016 Tickets on Sale and Complete Music Lineup to Be Released November 3 Sign up to be on the mailing list and get all the festival info as soon as it becomes available at Country500.com ; Country 500 on Facebook ; @Country500 on Twitter ( Daytona Beach, Fla.) - October 15, 2015 – Daytona International Speedway , the “World Center of Racing,” will host the inaugural Country 500 music festival featuring Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Kid Rock, TBA, Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson and dozens more over Memorial Day Weekend—May 27, 28 & 29, 2016. The complete Country 500 lineup, including the Friday night headliner, will be released on November 3 and tickets, camping and VIP packages will go on sale to the public the same day. Fans should plan to take advantage of the special early bird pricing ($199) for weekend general admission passes beginning on November 3. Also called “The Great American Music Fest at Daytona ,” the Country 500 festival will feature the biggest stars in country music spread over three days and nights, programmed on three huge performance stages—all specially designed and built for the festival. Country 500 will take place on the infield of the world-famous Daytona International Speedway , a historic first mega-music festival inside the hallowed grounds of one of the most iconic motorsports venues in America. Just as it is for the great races at the Speedway, Country 500 will allow fans to actually camp out in the infield, literally inside the festival. A full-range of camping opportunities is available for virtually any budget, from pitching a tent to deluxe RV locations. Special VIP packages called “Crew Chief VIP Experience” and “VIP Pit Pass” (see attached) allow for an exclusive upfront, golden-circle viewing area at the main stage with side stage access at the other performances areas plus access to comfortable hospitality areas, private cash bars and many other comforts and amenities. Visit Country500.com or call 1-844- 500 -FEST for VIP benefits, camping information and all the Country 500 details. Fans at the festival will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of their favorite country stars at artist meet-and-greets located throughout pit road and the garages. Numerous other features—a select festival menu sold from food booths and food trucks; carnival rides; arcade games; cooling water elements; country-and-western merchandise; fireworks; and more—will all be a part of the festival, as Country 500 transforms racing’s greatest venue into a festival-goer’s dream. Visit Country500.com or call 1-844- 500 -FEST for tickets, camping, parking, and other festival information. Make sure to sign up on the Country 500 mailing list and get all the festival info including travel packages and hotel accommodations as soon as it becomes available. “Luke Bryan closing out the Festival Sunday night; Kid Rock, Willie Nelson, and a homecoming celebration with Florida Georgia Line all on Saturday night; another superstar still to be announced to close Friday night; plus 40 more stars will be featured on the three stages over three days,” said Festival Producer Quint Davis. “The Country 500 , like its older brother on the race track, will positively rock the one and only Daytona International Speedway . Be the first to get your favorite camping spot on the infield inside the Festival. Look for the full lineup and tickets on sale November 3.” “We’re proud to develop this new partnership with AEG Live and Festival Productions, Inc. – New Orleans and bring the Country 500 music festival to Daytona International Speedway ,” Track President Joie Chitwood III said. “Signature events such as the DAYTONA 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona have made DIS the ‘World Center of Racing’ but by securing this marquee music festival with an amazing lineup of artists, we will also be known as the ‘World Center of Entertainment.” Stay connected with Country 500 on Facebook , Country500.com on the web and #Country500 on Twitter . AEG Live and Festival Productions, Inc. – New Orleans are partnering with Daytona International Speedway to produce the Country 500 . Festival Contact: Matthew Goldman, 504-410-4100, Matthew@fpi-no.com Daytona International Speedway Contact: Andrew Booth, 386-681-6714, Abooth@daytonainternationalspeedway.com PLEASE NOTE: Artist images and the official Country 500 logo can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/country500-pr and artist b-roll video is available at http://bit.ly/country500-video . ABOUT AEG & AEG LIVE AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, owns or is affiliated with a collection of companies including over 100 of the world’s preeminent facilities. AEG Live, the company’s live-entertainment division, is the world’s second largest concert promotion and touring companies and is comprised of touring, festival, exhibition, broadcasts and special event divisions with 15 regional offices. For additional information, visit: www.aegworldwide.com . ABOUT FESTIVAL PRODUCTIONS, INC. – NEW ORLEANS Festival Productions, Inc. – New Orleans (FPI-NO) is a Louisiana company that works in partnership with AEG Live. FPI-NO is the founder and the producer of the world-famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which draws almost 500 ,000 patrons from around the world for the 10-day event. The company has also produced myriad other events over the last four decades, from the Essence Music Festival to two Presidential Inaugural public events on the National Mall, as well as special events for both the NBA and the NFL. Since 2010, FPI-NO has created and produced several major country music festivals, including Bayou Country Superfest at LSU Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and Buckeye Country Superfest at the Ohio State University’s legendary “Horseshoe” in Columbus. ABOUT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY Known as the “World Center of Racing,” Daytona International Speedway has activity nearly every day of the year hosting stock cars, sports cars, motorcycles and karts. Daytona International Speedway has at least eight major race weekends a year with premier events such as the DAYTONA 500 , the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on Independence Day holiday weekend, the Rolex 24 At Daytona sports car event, the Daytona Supercross By Honda and the Daytona 200 motorcycle classic. In addition, Daytona International Speedway showcases daily track tours and is home to the winning Daytona 500 car. ### Country 500 Weekend Festival Passes 3-DAY GENERAL ADMISSION WEEKEND PASS – ($199 early bird all-in pricing) -3-day general admission; passes are non-transferable -Includes access to over 40 bands on three festival stages, a select menu of food and beverage offerings sold from food booths and food trucks, carnival rides, arcade games, country and western merchandise, official festival merchandise, a myriad of shade and water elements and much more VIP PIT PASS - ($599 all-in pricing) -3-day admission; passes are non-transferable -Access to the Pit, an exclusive upfront, golden circle viewing area at the Country 500 Stage and VIP viewing at the Daytona Stage and Bluebird Theater -Access to the VIP Pit Stop, a private hospitality tent where guests can cool of in the shade with access to exclusive beverage for purchase, private merchandise stand, cell phone charging stations and more. -Private air-conditioned flushable restrooms -Exclusive festival merchandise item -Express VIP entrance with re-entry all weekend -Exclusive opportunity to purchase a VIP parking space -On-site experience concierge CREW CHIEF VIP EXPERIENCE – ($999 all-in pricing) -3-day admission; passes are non-transferable -Access to the Pit, an exclusive upfront, golden circle viewing area at the Country 500 Stage and VIP viewing at the Daytona Stage and Bluebird Theater -Exclusive access to the Crew Chief Super VIP Deck at the Country 500 Stage featuring a covered viewing platform with premium views of the main stage, private cash bar and air-conditioned restrooms -Exclusive access to the Country 500 VIP Club, a private indoor air-conditioned hospitality lounge featuring cash bar, comfortable furnishings, private merchandise stand, complimentary light snacks and refreshments, massages, Wi-Fi, charging stations and more -Crew Chief VIP-only exclusive festival merchandise item -Express VIP entrance with re-entry all weekend -Exclusive opportunity to purchase a VIP parking space -On-site experience concierge -Plus a few surprises!
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Award-winning country music duo Florida Georgia Line, comprised of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, will perform the DAYTONA 500 Pre-Race Show prior to the start of the 58 th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 21 (FOX, FOX Deportes, MRN Radio and SiriusXM Radio), the first ever “Great American Race” to be held at Daytona International Speedway following the completion of the $400 million DAYTONA Rising frontstretch redevelopment project. "We are thrilled to secure Florida Georgia Line as the performers for the DAYTONA 500 Pre-Race Show,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “Florida Georgia Line is country music's premier duo and will provide race fans with an energetic performance prior to the start of the DAYTONA 500 ." All race fans who purchase Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race access for the DAYTONA 500 will be able to view Florida Georgia Line’s DAYTONA 500 Pre-Race Show, as well as driver introductions, from the grass tri-oval area. A limited number of DAYTONA 500 Pre-Race Concert ticket packages, available starting at $235, have been designed around Florida Georgia Line and include a DAYTONA 500 ticket, Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race access and VIP area access to the performance. Race fans who have already purchased DAYTONA 500 tickets can add Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race access and VIP area access for $110. All VIP ticket packages will be available beginning at 9 a.m. on Sept. 28. For Kelley, performing at the "World Center of Racing" will be a homecoming having grown up in the neighboring city of Ormond Beach. Kelley attended Seabreeze High School and Daytona State College and his father, Ed Kelley, has been the mayor of Ormond Beach since 2010. "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 ," Kelley said. "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." "We're extremely thankful for the opportunity to be part of such a huge day for NASCAR and our fans. We can't wait to bring the biggest party the DAYTONA 500 has ever seen," Hubbard said. Florida Georgia Line fueled with three scorching consecutive #1 hits -- GOLD-certified "Sippin’ On Fire" and "Sun Daze" and 2X PLATINUM-certified "Dirt" -- and the recently-released title track, Florida Georgia Line radiates with the GOLD-certified sophomore album ANYTHING GOES (Republic Nashville). Their latest album soared to a #1 debut on the all-genre Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Country Albums charts with music critics and fans alike embracing the superstar duo's fresh sound. FGL has skyrocketed to stardom becoming the only artist in history to join Brooks & Dunn in achieving four back-to-back, multi-week #1 singles; breaking the record for longest #1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and selling over 21 million tracks worldwide of their 2X PLATINUM debut HERE’S TO THE GOOD TIMES and ANYTHING GOES. Taking their undeniable songwriting skills to the next level and discovering new talent, FGL recently formed publishing company Tree Vibez Music, whose moniker was aptly inspired by Kelley's custom treetop recording studio built by Pete Nelson for the hit show Treehouse Masters. In addition to collaborating across genres with sensations like Nelly and Jason Derulo, FGL has racked up a plethora industry awards, closing out an epic 2014 topping four of Billboard's year-end charts and leading Forbes "30 Under 30" list. The accolades continue to pour in: FGL brought home two ACM Awards -- their second consecutive Vocal Duo of the Year title and Vocal Event of the Year ("This Is How We Roll" featuring Luke Bryan) -- a CMT Music Award for Duo Video of the Year ("Dirt") and tallied four Billboard Music Awards nominations. They are currently on tour through October 17. Those wishing to attend the 58th annual DAYTONA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will need to act quickly as there will be a limited number of tickets available due to the reduced seating capacity in the new stadium. Fans should also note: · Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.DAYTONA500.com . · Hospitality and premium seat packages, including the Trioval Club, the Rolex 24 Lounge and Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race wristbands are also available. · For all other Speedweeks events, children 12 and under are $10 in reserved grandstands and free in general admission areas and in the Sprint FANZONE. Fans can also visit PrimeSport.com, the new official ticket exchange and travel package provider of Daytona International Speedway . Offering multiple options for tickets, lodging and hospitality, https://www.primesport.com/d/ daytona - 500 -tickets is ideal for fans looking for the ultimate racing experience
RELATED: Complete Darlington schedule " Darlington's throwback schemes Officials with Darlington Raceway and International Speedway Corp., which owns the South Carolina facility, should be congratulated for their efforts leading into this weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 .The retro-themed weekend has been the talk of NASCAR in recent months, garnering more attention than any event outside of the season-opening Daytona 500 back in February. Copious amounts of content -- print, Internet and broadcast -- have been devoted to this weekend's race. And rightfully so. The fact that the program coincides with the return of the historic event to the Labor Day weekend is icing on the cake. When the seed for the throwback plan was planted, there was no indication that this year's race would be return to its long-held September date -- the 2015 schedule wasn't officially announced until August of '14, and track officials weren't privy to potential changes much earlier than that. After a one-year dalliance with a November stop in 2004, the 500 had a nine-year run on Mother's Day weekend in May where it did well. Last year's race was held in April in yet another schedule shuffle. But the Southern 500 in April or May is not the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. "Having the extra time from last April until Labor Day this year has been really helpful because truly it's just a small group of people that have put this together," Chip Wile, President of Darlington Raceway , said recently. "And it's been a learning process but it's been really fun." The platform is the kickoff of what Wile describes as a five-year plan to revitalize the track’s lone NASCAR race weekend, which includes Saturday's XFINITY Series race as well as Sunday's Sprint Cup event. For decades, the Southern 500 was considered one of the most difficult races on the series' circuit. The track's unusual shape -- a 1.336-mile layout with distinct differences between Turns 1-2 and 3-4 -- favors no particular driving style. Winners are often determined by a combination of skill and good fortune. The oppressive heat and humidity that hung over the track nearly every September race weekend took its toll as well -- the list of drivers that required relief at some point is a lengthy one. That difficulty, combined with the fact that the track is the oldest paved speedway to host NASCAR events (it opened in 1950), earned Darlington a lofty position in NASCAR's early years. The race is still considered one of NASCAR's crown jewel events -- along with the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 . But the praise for this weekend's program shouldn't stop with track officials. Teams have bought into the idea wholeheartedly, developing amazing throwback paint schemes, many of which honor some of the sport's legendary drivers and organizations. Sponsors and various stakeholders, such as Goodyear, have gotten on board. Broadcast teams will incorporate the throwback platform into their programming. It's been a win-win situation for everyone involved. It also couldn't have come at a better time. Wile and his group wanted to make his track's lone Sprint Cup race stand out above the crowd, and it certainly seems as if that has been accomplished. Darlington isn't the only track that's been able to develop an idea that resonates with those in the sport as well as those in the stands. Not as large in scope but certainly just as entertaining, the annual night race at Bristol Motor Speedway in August generates interest not only for the competition on the track, but its pre-race show is perhaps the most popular on the schedule. Anchoring the program are drivers entering the track to music they have chosen and the Motor Racing Outreach effort that has children of drivers and other personnel singing the National Anthem (an idea generated by former track president Jeff Byrd). The product on the track remains of primary importance, and fortunately that's been a constant at Darlington -- the racing there rarely fails to excite and entertain. And if there's a bit of a history lesson included, so much the better. "I really love the history and the heritage of the sport," former championship-winning crew chief Ray Evernham said. "I think it's really important if we're going to bring new fans, younger fans, that demographic, they've got to understand why. When you start telling some of the history and the tradition, and showing that, I think it gets people really interested. "Now they understand why people are so passionate about it or why somebody will come sit in the same seat for 50 years or why we work so hard on these cars. I think it's really important that we go back and show the steps that it took to get here in order to engage new fans." And there's no better place or time than Darlington Raceway . On Labor Day weekend.
MORE: Sunday's full lineup RELATED: Gordon's top 24 NASCAR moments " Full Gordon coverage HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Busy week, surrounded by a lot of friends and family, a legendary figure making the final start of his career with a shot at going out as a five-time champion. Racer. Philanthropist. Father. What's there to say about Jeff Gordon that hasn't been said? What's there to write that hasn't been written? Do a Google search for " Jeff Gordon " and the search engine generates approximately 79 million results. Tom Brady? 83.1 million. Kobe Bryant? 34.6 million. Derek Jeter? 14 million. Gordon, 44, is one of those rare athletes who have transcended their individual sport. A champion on the track? Without question. Off the track? Certainly. Television and tabloids flock to him. He purchased a second residence in New York City in part to escape the spotlight and to navigate life in between races unimpeded by the fame that followed him elsewhere. Maybe he would not carry the same clout or create the same buzz had he chosen another profession. Then again, perhaps his impact would have been even greater elsewhere. A precocious, driven youngster whose family packed up moved east from California in order to continue his development as a racer. A NASCAR premier series champion at 24. And 26. And 27. And 30. Now, at 44, is there one more title in the tank? What's there to say that hasn't been said, write that hasn't been written? WATCH: Gordon's first Homestead win The Alpha and Omega NASCAR didn't begin with Gordon, and it certainly won't end when the Hendrick Motorsports driver climbs from his No. 24 Chevrolet for the final time on Sunday evening. "Everybody's career comes to an end," Richard Petty said. "He's going out strong. I admire him for that part of it. "I wouldn't mind seeing him win the championship because he's meant so much to NASCAR over the years. They're going to miss him a whole lot from that standpoint." There is no one in the sport more qualified to speak on such matters than the man known simply as "The King." Now 78, Petty set the standard for champions on the track as well as how to conduct oneself outside the car. Icon, inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame member, winner of 200 races and seven championships, Petty is NASCAR. The Petty family is NASCAR. Petty's father, Lee, won three titles, 54 races and was in the very first sanctioned race. He, too, is a member of the Hall of Fame. The careers of Richard Petty and Gordon are inextricably linked by a single date – Nov. 15, 1992. Petty made his 1,184th and final start in NASCAR's premier series. Gordon made his very first in the same event. Petty met privately with Gordon this weekend at Homestead to present him with one of his signature Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hats. It was a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgement of everything Gordon has accomplished. But Petty understands better than most that the sport will move forward, just as it did when he stepped out of the car that sunny day in Atlanta. "No matter who you are, you're not strong enough to carry the whole load," Petty said. "He's been a strong leader all these years, but over a period of time, the next crowd comes along and kind of fades them all out. Over a period of time, you go away whether you want to or not." RELATED: Best No. 24 paint schemes Auspicious beginning Gordon won the series' Rookie of the Year title in 1993, competing for the honor against Bobby Labonte , Kenny Wallace and P.J. Jones. Two years later, he won his first championship. It was the era of Dale Earnhardt, the six-time champion chasing Petty's mark of seven titles while blazing new trails. He was "The Intimidator." He was NASCAR. Petty, Earnhardt and then there was Gordon. No one else was as dominant -- between 1995 and '99, Gordon won 47 races. He won Daytona . He won Indy. He won the Winston Million. Had he not come along? "Someone else would have taken that spot," Mike Helton, NASCAR Vice Chairman, said. "I don't know that anybody could have filled it, though. "There's a difference. It's like if the Atlantic Ocean went dry, somebody could figure out how to get water in it, but could they fill that whole ocean? "I think we were very fortunate for Jeff to appear when he did and do what he did along the way to keep our momentum going. It certainly added to the momentum that we had going in that era. We needed a Jeff Gordon and he arose. He came into the sport ... he could have chosen open-wheel racing ... and he would have been massively successful." Why was it Gordon? Why not someone else who stepped up and helped carry the sport forward, who resonated with fans and sponsors? Helton doesn't know. "I know growing up there was a reason I became a big fan of John Wayne. And there were a lot of cowboys on television," he said. "I just think that speaks to Jeff's inclusiveness, and his capabilities extended beyond just being a very successful athlete as a race car driver." There have been issues from time to time, but nothing major, according to Helton, who added, "Of course we've had conversations in which he'd had to write checks afterward." Earnhardt's death in 2001, in the season-opening Daytona 500 , turned the sport upside down. Gordon was one of the few who could help stabilize it in an uncertain time. "I think the whole industry looked at Jeff to take Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s place when we lost Dale," said Helton. "The garage area needed a voice like we've had historically, whether it was Richard Petty or Darrell Waltrip, Dale Sr. ... He got pressure from the industry inside the garage to be that voice. "When that came, along with the championships that preceded that, he understood the need for a league or sanctioning body in order for the athlete to be successful. But he also had a good soapbox to stand on saying 'Look, we need our voice to be heard too.' And I think the respect worked both ways." RELATED: NASCAR Nation honors Gordon with #24ever 'Iron Man' of NASCAR Consecutive starts: 796. It's one more impressive record in Jeff Gordon 's body of work. He's never missed a start, and passed Ricky Rudd for the consecutive starts record earlier this year. Now, only one remains, one final attempt, one final opportunity. Because of the format for NASCAR's championship-determining Chase, Gordon doesn't have to win Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 . He has to finish ahead of only three challengers -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) to capture the title. He'll go out a winner regardless of where he finishes. Whether or not he goes out a champion has yet to be determined. Capturing the inaugural Brickyard 400 in '94 has always stood out as his most memorable moment. Until a recent Martinsville victory put him in the Championship 4 here at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The '98 season when he won 13 races, the fourth title in '01 with crew chief Robby Loomis after the departure of mentor Ray Evernham and the '95 crown that was won when he "was going against Earnhardt; that was huge," Gordon said earlier this week. The finality of the moment, though, carries much weight. "My final year, my final race, (wife) Ingrid and the kids," Gordon said. "Kids motivate you in a whole new way, and no matter what we're going to go out and be happy and celebrate. "But to do it as a champion, oh, my gosh, I just can't imagine anything that would be more emotional and more exciting and more gratifying than to look at my wife in the eyes and see that reaction from her when that race is over if we win it." MORE: Drivers offer favorite Gordon memories
RELATED: Complete results from Homestead " Updated standings SHOP: Champion's gear " Gordon gear HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch capped a most improbable comeback Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway , capturing the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship while winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 . Busch, 30, passed race leader Brad Keselowski on a final restart with seven laps remaining, then pulled away from fellow Chase for the Sprint Cup contender Kevin Harvick to score his fifth win of the season and secure his first premier series title. It was also the first Sprint Cup Series championship for automaker Toyota, which entered the series in 2007. "A dream of a lifetime, a dream come true," Busch said. "I just can't believe with everything that happened this year and all the turmoil, all the things that I went through, that my wife (Samantha) went through and the people that are around me went through. This championship is all for these guys, my wife, my family, everyone who has had to sacrifice so much to get me here to this place today, whether it was on my team right now, or on my teams in the past." "Adam Stevens (crew chief) prepared such a great race car. Adam Stevens is my hero. I love that guy." Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) advanced through this year's 16-team, 10-race Chase format to qualify for a shot at the title. RELATED: Busch wins first Cup Series championship Busch said he never doubted that he and his team could orchestrate such a stunning comeback. "Oh yeah, no doubt," he said. "The rehab ... getting ready and focused, all that was the hardest part and the hardest thing I have ever gone through. To put it all together and be here tonight, this wasn't that hard." Sidelined for the season's first 11 points races after suffering a broken right leg and fractures to his left foot in an XFINITY Series crash at Daytona International Speedway , Busch returned to win five times. Sunday's victory was the 34th of his career. Busch can thank debris on the race track for the race win. It was driver and team that won the championship, however. Seemingly on his way to a second-place finish that would have still secured the title, Busch shot past Keselowski ( Team Penske ) on a Lap 261 restart for the 18th and final lead change of the night. "I knew it was time to go," Busch said. "I don't know why Brad chose the bottom, but he gave me the top and I thought, 'This is interesting.'" The restart order put Harvick directly behind Busch, who said, "I knew I just had to protect whatever Harvick tried to do if he was going to shoot the middle or shoot the gap or whatever it was going to be." "I don't know if Brad spun his tires or what. We got to Turns 1 and 2 and we were pretty even; I just looked into (Turn) 4 and gave it everything I had those last seven or eight laps." Officially, it was Busch, Harvick and Keselowski finishing first through third, with Joey Logano and Kyle Larson rounding out the top five. "I don't really know if there was a right one or wrong one, to be honest," Keselowski, who led a race-high 86 laps, said of the lane choice call. "We just weren't fast enough and I don't think it would have mattered either way." Gordon ended his illustrious driving career with a sixth-place finish while Truex wound up 12th. ALL ACCESS: Gordon parks car for final time "His talent is so strong, and that team really found some things this year," Gordon, a four-time champion making his final start, said of Busch, adding that he's seen "a changed Kyle." "When he came back, not only was he driven and just inspired by it, but you can tell he was racing smarter, with more patience, just being more deliberate. ... I think he showed it right away when he came back that there was a pretty good chance he was destined to win this championship." It wasn't a down-to-the wire battle for the championship or for the race until the final caution. With 67 laps remaining, Keselowski was easily out front while Busch enjoyed a lead of more than one second over Harvick for second place. Gordon, who had led earlier, ran ninth and Truex was just outside the top 10, running 12th. A fire on pit road and an ill-handling car stymied the efforts of Truex and his team for the first half of the race; a two-tire gamble during pit stop on Lap 168 put him out front. WATCH: Truex Jr. has 'a lot to build on for the future' But the lead was short-lived; Truex soon found himself free-falling through the field, eventually settling in just outside the top 10. Gordon made his way to the front for the first time following a Lap 36 restart, shooting past the soon-to-be champ for the lead and bringing the crowd in the grandstands to their feet. Harvick took charge moments later with a power move on a Lap 45 restart. A multi-car accident involving Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Clint Bowyer and others erupted almost as soon as Harvick took control, bringing the yellow flag for the fourth time. RELATED: Harvick sets bittersweet NASCAR record The defending series champion was able to build as much as a 1.5-second lead over Busch and led 46 laps before a cycle of green-flag pit stops allowed Joey Logano to move to the top spot. Afterward, Harvick could only smile as he watched Busch celebrate on stage. "He broke his leg at Daytona , and to come back from everything that he came back from ... that's a great comeback story from where he was after Daytona ," said Harvick. The race began 1 hour, 35 minutes late due to rain but ran uninterrupted by weather conditions following its 4:50 p.m. ET start.
Take a look back at Kevin Harvick’s ‘walk-off’ win and Ryan Newman’s last-lap pass to make the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Michigan International Speedway employee for 27 years dies at 55 RELATED: Response to fire allowed NASCAR to finish race Duane Barnes, who drove the jet dryer that caught fire after contact with Juan Pablo Montoya during the 2012 Daytona 500 , passed away on Tuesday at age 55. For the past 27 years, Barnes worked at Michigan International Speedway, serving as chief "UNO 1" jet dryer operator, fabricator and heavy equipment operator. He also served as a jet dryer operator at other International Speedway Corporation tracks. With 40 laps to go in the Great American Race three years ago, Barnes was drying the track against the Turn 3 wall during a caution period when a mechanical malfunction on the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (now known as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet) saw Montoya veer into the rear of the dryer. Following evaluation at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, Barnes was released. Two days after the 2012 accident, MIS issued a statement on his behalf. "I appreciate everyone for taking the time to write, call and ask how I am," Barnes said. "I am OK and I am amazed at how many people have wished me well. I am also glad Juan Montoya is OK, and thank him for his concern." An avid NASCAR fan and hunter, Barnes also enjoyed farming and gardening. He is survived by his wife, two children, four step-children, 14 grandchildren, his mother, two brothers, one sister, two nephews and one niece. On Barnes' passing, Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis issued the following statement: "Our condolences are with Duane's family and friends. Duane was a trusted, respected and most important part of our MIS family and the NASCAR community for almost 30 years, and we will miss him tremendously. We're a tight group, and I can only hope the wonderful memories of Duane will help comfort us and his family during this difficult time."