Daytona Beach, FL – The second-biggest racing weekend of the year is here.
The green flag waves tonight at 7:30 for the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 Xfinity Series race and tomorrow night at 7:00 for the 60th annual Coke Zero Sugar 400 Monster Energy Series race, both at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR drivers took to the tri-oval yesterday to practice ahead of both races.
Two drivers in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 are chasing special spots in the record book this weekend.
2018 Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon (photo courtesy DIS) looks to become the sixth driver ever to win both major races at DIS in a calendar year, while Coke Zero Sugar 400 defending champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wants to become the sixth driver ever to win the big summer race at Daytona back-to-back.
“It feels great anytime you come to Daytona when you’ve been able to win a couple of races here,” Dillon said. “I’ve enjoyed this place from the beginning. I’ve been coming here since I was born. It’s like a second home to me.”
Dillon’s win in 2018 was the first time the #3 car made it to the DIS Victory Lane since the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1998.
Stenhouse Jr. has only two Monster Energy Series victories, both coming last season in restrictor-plate races, including Daytona.
“I think this race weekend is always special,” Stenhouse Jr. added. “Pulling into that victory lane is unlike any other. That’s something we all strive for.”
The driver of the #17 finished 29th in this year’s Daytona 500.
For the 10th consecutive year, DIS will salute Medal of Honor recipients, a tradition which dates back to the 1970’s. It’s the highest military decoration given by the United States government.
Being recognized this year are Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell and Staff Sergeant Don Jenkins – both of whom served in the Vietnam War – and Master Sergeant Leroy Petry, who did the same in Afghanistan. All three will be involved in pre-race ceremonies for both races as well as an autograph session in the UNOH Fanzone prior to the Saturday night race.
Two F-5 fighter jets from Naval Air Station Jacksonville will fly over the Speedway during the national anthem in advance of Friday night’s race. Providing the fly over prior to Saturday night’s race will be two F-22’s from the 43rd Fighter Squadron out of Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City.
All military members and their families who bought race tickets will have access to a pair of Midway suites where they can get complimentary drinks and snacks from 3:30 p.m. on Saturday through the end of Stage 1 of the Coke Zero Sugar 400. The Midway suites can be accessed with military identification cards.
In an interview on WNDB’s Bennett & Bernier earlier this week, DIS President Chip Wile says that’s a “thank you” to those who have defended the country.
“They can get out of the heat, come enjoy some ice cold Coca Cola’s,” Wile added.
Multi-platinum country singer Josh Turner will play the pre-race concert on Saturday night, while the Speedway’s annual 4th of July fireworks show takes place that same night after the checkered flag is waived.