From rabbits on the track to Jimmie Johnson getting his second win, check out the best in-car audio from the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Tony Stewart will lead off the start of the Duck Commander 500
Go behind the scenes of all the action from the Duck Commander 500 in Texas.
Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon discuss their second and third place finishes in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Check out the best in-car audio from Dale Earnhardt Jr's wild wreck to Joey Logano's crazy finish during the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Annual Largest-Attended, Single-Day Sporting Event In Texas Will Be Titled Duck Commander 500 with Three-Year Title Sponsor Agreement and Three-Year Renewal Option
FORT WORTH, Texas (Feb. 26, 2014) ? Newly crowned Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. received a rousing Texas-sized welcome Tuesday as he was greeted by more than 1,000 members of "Junior Nation" at the iconic Scholz Garten restaurant in the state capital of Austin to celebrate his thrilling victory in NASCAR's marquee season-opening race. Fans, arriving as early as 9 a.m. CT and more than seven hours before his appearance, packed the outside commons area and lined the streets and garage decks of downtown Austin as the two-time Daytona 500 champion received a wild ovation while driving the city streets and arriving in a Duck Commander 500 -wrapped Team Texas stock car. For Earnhardt Jr., the reception he continuously receives when visiting the Lone Star State ? even when it is more than 200 miles from Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth ? is rewarding even to NASCAR's 11-time most popular driver. "There are a lot of things I like about Texas Motor Speedway," Earnhardt Jr. said. "One of the things I like about TMS, and this is genuine, is the fan support. "When we first built that race track, to be frank, we (NASCAR) were struggling west of the Mississippi to really draw crowds. For whatever reason, when they built this race track, people really latched on to it. It's been a great market for us. It's been very successful. There's a great staff out there that does a lot of cutting-edge stuff and does a lot of unique promotion that you don't see at other places. It makes it a lot of fun to come here. Especially when the fans show their support to the track itself, it makes you want to race in front of them. It makes you excited to be here when they're, in turn, excited to see you." Earnhardt Jr., who has been showered with praise for his thrilling victory in the 56th Daytona 500 , may have received his most unique reward of the week. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas President Karen Thompson presented him with the Texas flag that flew over Texas' most iconic landmark ? The Alamo ? the same day as his victory in the Daytona 500 . The presentation of the flag was part of a fan friendly event where he posed for photos with fans from a radio promotion, signed a slew of autographs and participated in a Q&A session where he shared his thoughts on relishing his second Daytona 500 triumph. "When I won it early, it was a huge shock," Earnhardt Jr. said of winning his first Daytona 500 in 2004. "The feeling that I had wasn't really joy. It was more relief that I got it out of the way. Then, after another couple years, you wonder if you'll ever win another one. As those years have turned into 10 years, you've really got to wonder if you'll ever feel that again." Earnhardt Jr.'s visit to Austin has been part of a whirlwind Daytona 500 Champion's Tour by NASCAR. His appearance in the Lone Star State came on the heels of media tours in New York and Bristol, Conn., that included an appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman" and a stop at ESPN's broadcast headquarters, respectively, and continued today in Los Angeles. Fans were not the only ones packing into Scholz Garten, as all the major media outlets from Austin, as well others traveling from San Antonio and Waco, took advantage of Earnhardt Jr.'s visit. Despite being on the turf of Formula One's new venue in Austin, Circuit of the Americas, Earnhardt Jr. reminded racing fans and the media which motorsports series in the United States and which track in the state of Texas provides the most intense racing action. "I'm here to tell people that they (fans) need to see us race because we put on a better show and as exciting as it is to have Formula One back in the United States, NASCAR is where it's at," Earnhardt Jr. said. "NASCAR is the best motorsports in the country for sure and possibly in the world. To see the best show they need to come to Texas (Motor Speedway)." Legendary Formula One driver Michael Schumacher provided a reason for Earnhardt Jr. to keep tabs on the global series in the past, but since his departure from Ferrari he has found little reason to follow the series. "He was considered one of the best race-car drivers the world has ever seen," Earnhardt Jr. said of Schumacher. "I definitely followed it back then, but ever since then I've not had a personality really intrigue me that runs in that sport. When it comes to sports, even in baseball, basketball, or football, it's the individuals that I latch onto. I pull for particular people to do well. I haven't found the one that I relate to yet." Earnhardt Jr.'s next visit to Texas will be in the more familiar confines of Dallas/Fort Worth when he returns to Texas Motor Speedway for the Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, April 6. FULL SERIES COVERAGE View all articles View all videos View all photos
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.
Rachel Rupert catches up with Kurt Busch after he captures his second Coors Light Pole Award of the 2015 season at Texas Motor Speedway.
Relive the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in this classic NASCAR race.