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
Sprint Cup Series race to take place at noon ET on Monday (FOX)
Kahne earns first victory -- and Chase berth -- with thrilling finish RELATED: Complete results " Updated standings " Current Chase Grid HAMPTON, Ga. -- It was Tony Stewart's return to racing that dominated the headlines before Sunday night's Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway , but it was Kasey Kahne who stole the show -- and a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . In a race that went 10 laps beyond its scheduled distance of 325 laps, Kahne surged past Matt Kenseth on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish to win for the first time this year and the third time at the 1.54-mile speedway. Kenseth finished second and clinched a Chase spot on points, leaving just two of 16 positions in NASCAR's 10-race playoff available in Saturday's regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway . After streaking into the lead on a restart with 24 laps left, Kahne held the top spot until a caution for a fracas between Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. slowed the field with less than two laps left. On the first attempt at overtime, a multicar wreck in Turn 1 wiped out the dominant car of polesitter Kevin Harvick, requiring a second attempt at a two-lap shootout. With four fresh tires to Kenseth's two, Kahne overtook the No. 20 Toyota after he and Kenseth battled for a lap after the restart and pulled away to win the 17th race of his career by .574 seconds. "We were all over the place during the race, but the guys stayed with me and worked hard," Kahne said. "On those restarts -- I didn't know what would happen, because I had great restarts all night, and I struggle with restarts a lot. "That's big, because that is one of the things you have to be good at, and it worked really well tonight." It also took a huge weight off Kahne's shoulders, as the end of the regular season approached. "Yeah, we are locked in, and I hate that it comes down to this Atlanta or Richmond just about every year for me," Kahne said of the pressure to make the Chase. "Sometimes we are in, sometimes we are out. But thankful that now at HMS ( Hendrick Motorsports ), I've been in all three years now. We have the pressure all the way to Richmond, but we made it again--thankful for that." Denny Hamlin ran third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards . Danica Patrick finished sixth, beating by four positions the best previous finish by a female driver at Atlanta (Janet Guthrie was 10th in 1978). The race that turned the season around for Kahne provided little solace for Stewart. Starting a Cup race for the first time since his involvement in the fatal sprint car accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway, Stewart charged forward from his 12th-place starting position and ran as high as fourth in the early going. But Stewart's race came undone moments after a restart on Lap 123, when Kyle Busch's Toyota pinched Stewart's Chevy into the outside wall off Turn 2, significantly damaging both cars. On Lap 160 Matt Kenseth, then the leader, passed Stewart to put the No. 14 a lap down. Twelve laps later, a blown right front tire sent Stewart hard into the Turn 2 wall, forcing him to the garage and out of the race. Credited with a 41st-place finish, Stewart has one more chance—on Saturday at Richmond—to take advantage of a NASCAR dispensation that kept him eligible for the Chase. Having missed three races, Stewart must win at the .75-mile short track to qualify for NASCAR's 10-race playoff. After exiting his car, Stewart declined requests for interviews, but crew chief Chad Johnston spoke to reporters in the garage. "I went into today with some pretty high hopes of finishing well and possibly coming out of here with a win, but it just didn't work out in our favor," Johnston said. "We got into a little trouble with the 18 (Busch) and got into the outside wall, knocked the toe out of it, and a lot of heavy right side damage. "We were just trying to fix that and salvage what we could out of the day but then we blew a right front there right before that caution came out." If Stewart had issues on the track, so did one prominent driver on the Chase bubble. The shifter on Clint Bowyer' s No. 15 Toyota broke, preventing him from getting the car into high gear. Bowyer lost 22 laps in the garage as his team made repairs. He finished 38th, leaving his chances to make the Chase on points in dire jeopardy. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The Sprint Cup Series' seventh stop of the season is at Texas Motor Speedway