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
Rachel Rupert catches up with Kurt Busch after he captures his second Coors Light Pole Award of the 2015 season at Texas Motor Speedway.
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
Would you rather watch under the sun or stars? RELATED: Junior prefers day races over night Last week while speaking at Charlotte Motor Speedway , it came out that Dale Earnhardt Jr . thinks the daytime is the right time for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing. Junior had his reasons, and you can read them at the link above, but it got us at NASCAR.com thinking about which type of races we prefer. Some tracks shine at night, such as Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual night race there in the late summer, and fans look forward to the event months in advance. Meanwhile, other venues sparkle during the daylight. Like, how could we beat the day at Talladega earlier this season? Bright skies and that big American flag in the background. What could be better? Kathy Sheldon and George Winkler have their preferences as to which time they like races and are ready to debate. Which do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below. Winkler: Alright, Kathy. Boogity, boogity, boogity, let's go debating. I'll start off speaking from the heart. My first live sporting event with my dad was a day baseball game in San Francisco between the Giants and Cardinals. And as a kid I remember just how bright and green that field appeared the first time I laid eyes on it. Had it been a night game, it would have been past my bedtime. So I empathize with parents who are bringing their sons and daughters to their first race. I want them to have the same bright experience I had because that is what will set them on the path to becoming a true sports fan. Sheldon: George, we share an abiding love for baseball, as well as racing. I, too, was a wee lass when my family took me to my first game at Wrigley Field -- a day game. I would argue all day long for more day baseball, but racing is different for me. Baseball fans usually spend less than 3-1/2 hours total at the ballpark. That's including player introductions, the national anthem, and buying souvenirs before or after the game. Out of 12 races so far this season, NASCAR fans have seen five events go past the 3.5-hour mark. Just the racing. The Coca-Cola 600 was 4 hours and 3 minutes -- of baking in the sun. The deeper we go into summer, the hotter those afternoon races get. Plus, remember many NASCAR fans travel to see races. Saturday night races give them a chance to get some shut-eye then make their way home on Sunday and not miss any work vs. driving late into the night Sunday or taking a day off on Monday. Winkler: Kathy, you make a great point about the travel for the fans being more convenient on Sunday after a Saturday night race. Those of us who work in the business certainly appreciate those Sundays off, too. But stepping away from the fan experience for a bit, let's talk about the actual racing. Junior thinks there's better racing during the day because the surface is hotter, the track is slicker and the groove is wider. These are some of the reasons I love watching the race at Auto Club Speedway , for example. With a racing surface that's wide open during the day, it gives drivers the chance to try different grooves and can lead to exciting moments and different strategies. Plus, those California views! Or Phoenix or Las Vegas for that matter. Can't see those at night! Sheldon: Sticking with the fan experience for one more second, what you can see at night is the fireworks on the track. Did you not think it was the coolest thing ever the first time you saw the brake rotors glowing on 43 cars going 150-plus mph? Only at night can you see the sparks flying when the exhaust or suspension pieces hit the pavement during braking in the corners or when cars make contact. As for better racing, I like seeing the strategy of which team can beat the changing conditions. Going from early evening setting sun track temperatures to cooler night temperatures is just one more facet in the battle of man vs. machine. This spring’s Texas race didn't lack excitement, with 29 lead changes among nine drivers. Winkler: OK, you're a tough cookie to crack, Kathy. So I'm pulling out the cranky old man material. I get up early in the morning and need to get on with my day. I don't have time to sit around in a parking lot waiting for these night races. I've got places to go, people to see, yards to mow, important stuff like that. These crazy kids these days getting extra time to get all "juiced up" for these races. I like to hit the ground running in the morning and I'm ready for a good, old-fashioned 1 p.m. ET start. Get 'er done, as they say! Sheldon: George, I'll hand it to you on being a family man. I've worked nights too many years. So I would still rather be hanging out in the parking lot after a race having a sandwich and one last beer (if I'm not driving) while waiting for traffic to thin out at midnight rather than getting up with the sun. Or better yet, camping! I'd say we agree you can't really go wrong when it comes to spending time at the track as a fan, but sign me up for those warm summer nights. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sprint Cup Series race to take place at noon ET on Monday (FOX)