2017 Daytona 500

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The car that Kurt Busch didn’t get with his new contract


DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – Anyone can relate to haggling over the price of a showroom car, but there was more than just a new set of shiny wheels at stake for Kurt Busch.

Trying to secure the rights to his winning Ford in the 59th Daytona 500 was one of the snags in his contract talks with Stewart-Haas Racing last year.

“That was one my No. 1 objectives,” Busch said during a taping last month of the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “They’re like, ‘No we’re going to keep it.’ Well, can I have visitation rights with it? Literally, that was a sticking point for a while, but we worked it all out.”

It didn’t work out exactly as planned for the 2004 series champion, who told reporters this past weekend that his No. 41 would remain with the team after it’s rolled out of a yearlong residency Monday at Daytona International Speedway.

“The team is the one that has the rights to the car,” Busch said. “It will be pushed into the front lobby area of Stewart-Haas and go right along with (Kevin) Harvick and (Tony) Stewart’s championship cars. It is special to have a car like that. We will see. Hopefully we will push another one in there next Monday.”

Busch’s re-signing of a one-year deal with Stewart-Haas Racing was announced in December, four months after the team had declined to pick up its 2018 option on the driver. Despite being an impending free agent, Busch said he and SHR had a good-faith negotiation that had him confident about returning.

“I think it was like a chess game in a certain way,” Busch said on the podcast. “The team wanted to get things done their way. I wanted to get things done my way, and we just had to give and take. The two sides always agreed we were going to work out, I just had some objectives that I was really firm about.”

A key part of the deal for Busch was staying with Ford, which was the make he drove for his first five seasons in NASCAR’s premier series. The Las Vegas native, who is entering his 18th season in Cup, hinted at having sports car aspirations after NASCAR with Ford, including racing the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“At the end of the day, I was hopeful to have a long-term contract because with Ford I know there’s more on the horizon with the new car that they’re designing right now, and I wanted to be part of that,” he said. “Because over the years, Ford has always felt like family and that’s always felt like home. I still feel there’s more to do at Ford Racing.

“NASCAR is my priority. But Ford is involved in all forms of different motorsports, and we’ll see how it all shakes out.”

During the podcast, Busch also discussed:

–His memories of winning Daytona 500 and the postrace celebration with Rob Gronkowski;

–His days of sneaking into short tracks in the Southwest Tour Series;

–Handling statistical analytics for his wife’s polo team;

–Reflecting on being the last active driver to have raced against Dale Earnhardt in the Daytona 500 (his final start in 2001).

The new episode will be available early Wednesday a.m. Subscribe to the NASCAR on NBC Podcast wherever you get your podcasts to receive free downloads automatically.

Michael Waltrip will retire from NASCAR after 30th and final start in the Daytona 500


Michael Waltrip will call it a career after one final start in the race that made his NASCAR career.

Running the No. 15 Toyota for Premium Motorsports (which has a guaranteed spot via charter), Waltrip, 53, will retire after making his 30th start in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26.

The four-time winner in Cup has won the Great American Race twice (2001, ’03) and also won in July 2002 at Daytona International Speedway. His most recent victory came at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2003.

He will be backed by longtime sponsor Aaron’s in a “Thanks Mikey” paint scheme.

“I can reflect on my career with a lot of emotions and one company that has been there for me is Aaron’s,” said Waltrip, who hasn’t raced full time since 2009 and has been working as a Fox Sports analyst in recent years. “I started working with Aaron’s almost 20 years ago with some commercials and six Xfinity Series races when I had a team behind my house. We have been together ever since and it makes my heart smile thinking about all the great things we did together.”

Aaron’s will release a video next week highlighting Waltrip’s top five moments with the sponsor.

The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule

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NASCAR’s new era is upon us.

With the ringing in of a new year, it’s now officially the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The 59th annual Daytona 500 will be held Feb. 26 and will be the first race under Monster Energy’s sponsorship of the premier series.

There are a few changes on the schedule for this season.

The fall race at Kansas Speedway has been swapped with the race at Talladega Superspeedway. It makes Kansas the final race of the second round of the Chase.

Other changes include the spring Texas Motor Speedway race moving to a Sunday afternoon event from Saturday night; Dover International Speedway’s first race of the season will be held in June instead of May, a week after the Coca-Cola 600; and Michigan International Speedway’s second race moves back into its traditional early August spot.

Here is the full 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule:

2/18 Daytona International Speedway (The Clash) – 8 p.m. ET (FS1)
2/23 Daytona International Speedway (The Duels) – 7 p.m. ET (FS1)
2/26 Daytona 500 – 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/5 Atlanta Motor Speedway – 2:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/12 Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/19 Phoenix International Raceway – 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/26 Auto Club Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
4/2 Martinsville Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (FS1)
4/9 Texas Motor Speedway – 1:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
4/23 Bristol Motor Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
4/30 Richmond International Raceway – 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
5/7 Talladega Superspeedway – 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
5/13 Kansas Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
5/20 Charlotte Motor Speedway (All-Star Race) – 6 p.m. ET (FS1)
5/28 Charlotte Motor Speedway – 6 p.m. ET (FOX)
6/4 Dover International Speedway – 1 p.m. ET (FS1)
6/11 Pocono Raceway – 3 p.m. (FS1)
6/18 Michigan International Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (FS1)
6/25 Sonoma Raceway – 3 p.m. ET (FS1)
7/1 Daytona International Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
7/8 Kentucky Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
7/16 New Hampshire Motor Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
7/23 Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
7/30 Pocono Raceway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/6 Watkins Glen International – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/13 Michigan International Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/19 Bristol Motor Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
9/3 Darlington Raceway – 6 p.m. ET (NBSCN)
9/9 Richmond International Raceway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
9/17 Chicagoland Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
9/24 New Hampshire Motor Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/1 Dover International Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/7 Charlotte Motor Speedway – 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/15 Talladega Superspeedway – 2 p.m. ET (NBC)
10/22 Kansas Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/29 Martinsville Speedway – 1 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
11/5 Texas Motor Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (NBC)
11/12 Phoenix International Raceway – 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
11/19 Homestead-Miami Speedway – 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

Michael Waltrip says he’s going to run in the Daytona 500

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Michael Waltrip responded to a fan question on Twitter Friday night with an emphatic “yes” when asked if he was going to be in the 2017 Daytona 500.

Waltrip did not offer specifics about who he would be driving for other than revealing it would be in a Toyota. He has competed in every Daytona 500 but one (did not qualify for the 2012 race) since 1987.

A two-time Daytona 500 winner, 2001 and 2003, Waltrip has made 24 Cup starts since ending his full-time career in 2009. Of those 24 starts, 22 have been in the restrictor-plate races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Waltrip made two starts in 2016 – the Daytona 500 for BK Racing and the spring Talladega race for Premium Motorsports.

As for where Waltrip could wind up for the 2017 Daytona 500, teams without confirmed drivers include Premium Motorsports and The Motorsports Group. BK Racing has also not announced plans for its second car and Joe Falk still has a charter in play that he must use in 2017 or sell.

2017 Daytona 500 tickets go on sale Monday

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Tickets for the 59th annual Daytona 500 will go on sale at 9 a.m. ET, Monday, June 20.

Scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26, fans will be able to see the follow up to the 2016 race, which featured the closest finish in race history between winner Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.

Fans who attend “The Great American Race” can experience 101,500 new, wider seats, thousands of premium club seats, 60 luxury suites, social “neighborhoods” and three concourse levels that span the nearly mile-long frontstretch.

·    Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.DAYTONA500.com.

·   Hospitality and premium seat packages, including the Rolex 24 Lounge, Harley J’s, Trioval Club and FANZONE/Pre-race wristbands are also available.

·   For all other Speedweeks events, children 12 and under are $10 in reserved stadium seating and free in general admission areas and in FANZONE.

·    Fans can also visit PrimeSport.com, the official ticket exchange and travel package provider of Daytona International Speedway, where they can find multiple options for tickets, lodging and hospitality.

NASCAR returns to Daytona well before then. It will hold the Coke Zero 400 on July 2 and will mark the return of NASCAR race coverage to NBC.