ESPN's Marty Smith talks about NASCAR, racing in Virginia

I'm a Virginian. Born. Raised. Educated: school and sanctuary and stadium. My body's gone to Carolina and all over the sporting world on a million airplanes, but my values and my depth and my manners are rooted in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia.

I adore my home state. Commonwealth, as it were. There are only four commonwealths: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and us. I don't know why.

Virginians are a regional bunch. You're not just from Virginia. You're from Northern Virginia or Virginia Beach or Southwest Virginia or Appalachia or Piedmont. Or Richmond.

We're more prideful about our native regions in our native Commonwealth than our native Commonwealth itself. I love that about Virginia, because environmental factors are pivotal in shaping our clay.

A lot of us talk weird. Those reared in the I-95 corridor between Richmond and DC, and east to the shore, sound normal. But the rest of us, from south of Richmond all the way west to the borders of Tennessee and West Virginia and Kentucky, are a potpourri of glorious and unique dialects, immediately noticeable and authentic -- even if some folks around this country still don't believe mine is real.

There's the easy cadence of the Piedmont, from Emporia west to South Hill and South Boston, where R's don't purse the lips and I's bare teeth. Further west, beyond Martinsville and Roanoke you fall into the Appalachian drawl -- my accent -- with sentences that meld one word to the next and tend to end in vowels, and inch thicker and longer the further you move towards the coal fields in Grundy and Haysi and Big Stone Gap.

I don't know much about other states or their particular sectors. But I can't think of another one -- maybe New Jersey -- that so distinctly separates its regions.

I've been all over the world, and I've never seen any place more beautiful than the Southwest region of the state. Gorgeous purple and navy mountains tower over stunning streams and rivers, and the simple life provides a profound experience.

You learn how to work. You learn how to pray. You learn how look a man in the eye and shake his hand. You learn to hunt and fish from your dad. You learn to love high school football -- and lean on it, too. I still do, almost a quarter-century since my last game at Giles High School.

Athletes, man. Arthur Ashe and Allen Iverson and Michael Vick and Joe Smith and Anthony Poindexter and Ronald Curry and Alonzo Mourning and Bruce Smith and the Barber twins and Ralph Sampson and Russell Wilson and Kam Chancellor and Thomas and Julius Jones and JJ Reddick. On and on.

I remember the magic of watching Park View High's Allen Pinkett run the football against my high school in 1980. Magic is an honest description. I was four years old. He went on to glory at Notre Dame and the Houston Oilers, but his legend lives differently in my mind. It is a foggy image of possibility. Of hope.

And racers. They were my hope. I hitched my wagon to the Wood Brothers, the Burtons, the Sadlers and Ricky Rudd. Rick Hendrick. And later on, 2016 Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin showed up. After he won the 500, Hamlin and I took a photo together displaying our Virginia pride.

I remember sitting on the Richmond pit wall in June 1998. I'd just graduated from Radford University, and I was on assignment for the Lynchburg News & Advance to cover the Pontiac Excitement 400. Practice was underway, and the white and blue No. 2 car screamed by.

"Rusty Wallace. That's RUSTY WALLACE," I thought.

Zoom! The rainbow No. 24. Zoom! The black No. 3.

"Dale Earnhardt. That's THE Dale Earnhardt."

I was so overwhelmed by that moment. The show. I was here. I made it.

And I was at Richmond International Raceway, a place that my father always appreciated so much. Fairgrounds, he called it. My mom had passed away just before this, on May 24th. And every time I go back to RIR, I think about that moment. And I go sit there at that same spot before every race.

And I feel my dad and I feel my mom. It's special to me.

When you grow up in small town America, you fall in love with the idea of getting out. Some do get out. Most don't. And that's just fine. They drink beers with lifelong friends whom they've known since kindergarten. Some fall in love and marry their high school crush. Some meet a girl from a neighboring town and a rival high school and plant a "house-divided" sign in the yard.

And those that leave fall in love with the idea of getting back. I often consider getting back. Maybe it's the idea of what was, that blurry nostalgia of all that possibility. I don't know.

What I do know is this: When I enter the Commonwealth, regardless of which corner I enter, it feels like home.

And it's the only time I experience that feeling.

Wow. Just. Wow.
A star-studded show culminating with the closes finish in Daytona 500 history (0.010 seconds). Now THATS how you get the party started. Check out all that went down in the exciting kickoff to the 2016 NASCAR season.

2016 Daytona 500

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They might not have won the Powershares QQQ 300- but they definitely won us over.
Race runner-up Joey Logano and Virginia-native Elliot Sadler gave one of the more entertaining post-race press conferences we've seen. Here are some of the best moments:

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NASCAR's bringing out some heavy hitters to help get the season underway. I think you've probably heard of a few of them:

 John Cena
Honorary Pace Car Driver
He's a 15-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, five-time US Champion, record-setting Make-A-Wish granter and Internet meme phenomenon.

Ken Griffey Jr
 Ken Griffey Jr
Honorary Starter
"The Kid" is a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Golf Glove Award winner,  seven-time Silver Slugger, a member of the MLB All-Century Team and a near-unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer.

Gerard Butler
Gerard Butler
Grand Marshal
He's already played a Spartan King and U.S. Secret Service agent, but this time next week you can see him as a God of Egypt.

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Speedweeks has been great. Fantastic finishes, high-energry and the unvelining of the first motorsports stadium. But now it's time to Ready. Set. Race. 

The NASCAR XFINITY Series season is officially underway! Here are some of the best sights:

2016 Powershares QQQ 300

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As we tune in to the Powershares QQQ 300 this afternoon, here's a look at some of the young guns the NASCAR XFINITY Series has to offer in 2016. There are four drivers entered as Sunoco Rookies for 2016- lets get to know them.

Jones turned 19 just a few days ago, and we're sure he'd take a trip to Victory Lane as a belated birthday present. He's already seen success during his limited run in the series, with a top-5 and two top-10's in just five XFINITY Series starts. He doesn't have the experience others do in the series, but we're pretty sure he can handle the challenge (considering he balanced a slate of 33 races while finishing up his senior year of high school last season).

Richard Childress Racing  |  No. 33 Menards Chevrolet

Poole got a heavy of the XFINITY series last season - making 17 starts (including both Richmond races) and collecting two top-10 finishes in the process. The 24-year-old was a mainstay in the ARCA Series, collecting six wins in 35 starts since 2011. One of those wins came in his very first ARCA start at Salem Speedway, and in 2012 he finished third in the final standings.
Chip Ganassi Racing  |  No. 48 DC Solar Chevrolet

The 2015 Camping World Truck Series champion, Jones is the early front-runner for Rookie of the Year honors.  Earning seat time in both the No. 20 and No. 54 last season, he made a total of 23 starts and earned two wins, three poles, 12 top-5 and 17 top-10 finishes. The 19-year-old even worked his way into a Cup ride for three starts last season. You can find out even more about Jones by checking out the chat we had with him earlier this week.

Joe Gibbs Racing  |  No. 20 Resers Main Street Bistro Toyota

Preece is a graduate of the NASCAR Next program. He hails from Berlin, Connecticut, and at 25 years old has made three XFINITY Series starts (from 2013 and 2014).

JD Motorsports  |  No. 01 UPTick Vineyards Chevrolet

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We had a few minutes to catch up with NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie Erik Jones, and get to know the man behind the wheel

You can see Erik, starting P5, and the rest of the XFINITY Series field tonight for the Powershares QQQ 300
Powershares QQQ 300

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All three series were on track Friday, and here's some of the best of what we saw:

2016 NextEra Energy Resources 250

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Jimmie Johnson will race in his backup car during Sunday's Daytona 500

A couple of exciting finishes last night, XFINITY series on track of the first time, truck racing tonight and the Daytona 500 just two days away. There's a TON going on at the World Center of Racing, but here's five things we have our eye on...

JGR's Got Speed
The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards have been wicked fast. Hamlin was the only one of the team's cars in the first Duel and he finished a respectable fifth and actually battled Earnhardt for the lead much of the night. In the second Duel, Kenseth and Busch combined to lead all but two laps, with Busch taking the victory (click for more...)

The Replacements
Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr, and A.J. Allmendinger were forced into their backup cars this afternoon after last night's crash cost them their primaries. Johnson was the only one of the four who participated in the early practice round, and actually paced the field. All four made it out for the second session. (read more here)

Drivers Show Their Lighter Side
Speedweeks can be a long one! Coming off the Sprint Unlimited there's Media day, five days on track for five days and five races. We all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so it's good to see when they're able to let their hair down a little bit. Like Bubba Wallace getting all giddy over seeing a certain driver... (click to find out who)

Early Moneys On Logano
The Century Poll, which has 50 NASCAR media members and 50 who work in the garage, predicts that Joey Logano will win the 2016 Sprint Cup Series title. Logano received 30 votes, Kevin Harvick was second with 19 and six-time champion Jimmie Johnson was third with 13. Defending champion Kyle Busch tied for fourth with Carl Edwards at eight votes. Seven of Busch’s votes came from voters in the garage. We took our own poll earlier this week, see how we matched up.

McDowell, Richardson Make the '500'
We saw the new charter system play out last night in the Duels, with Michael McDowell and Robert Richardson Jr locking up two of the four open positions under the new system (which guarantees all 36-charter teams entry in NASCAR Sprint Cup Events). As you can tell from their post-race interviews; they're relieved.

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Tune in to the NextEra Energy Resources 250

With the Daytona 500 just two days away, and the NASCAR Sprint Cup season ready to get underway, RIR decided to jump ahead a little bit and see who we think is primed to make 2016 their year. We polled all our 37 members of our staff- and the top seven vote-getters are...

Carl Edwards

 "I'm picking Carl Edwards because I love his backflip when he wins! And it doesn't hurt he's really good looking. Go Carl!!"
Suzanne, Operation

Jimmie Johnson

"Jimmie Johnson. Power of the J's"
Jeff, Operations

Martin Truex Jr

"I'll go with Martin Truex Jr. He's a Philly sports fan like me."
Mike, Sales

"Car numer 78 - because he's the only one in the football offensive lineman range."
Chris, Accounting

Dale Earnhardt Jr

"I am going with Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Jr. because like Nationwide, I'm on his side."
Courtney, Communications

"Dale Earnhardt Jr. because 8+8=16! Mathematically, it's his year!"
Kristen, Ticketing

Joey Logano

"Joey Logano. He wants that redemption from last year- and a championship would be a pretty good way to ring in Team Penske's 50 years."
Megan, Marketing

"Joey Logano, because 22 is also the name of my favorite Taylor Swift song."
Emily, Marketing

Kevin Harvick

"I pick Kevin Harvick because I love Jimmy John's and he drives the Jimmy John's car. I get it delivered to my house probably every two weeks!"
Megan, Operations

"I've got to go with Kevin Harvick. I love his nickname 'Happy Harvick,' he has an awesome wife and my favorite number is 4!"
Jacque, Administration

Denny Hamlin

"This is my first internship with NASCAR, so I decided to go with my favorite number, 11. I'm also a huge Redskins fan and he races for former coach Joe Gibbs."
Brian, Marketing

"Hamlin, because I would like to throw a big Champion's celebration in town!"
Dennis, President

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Here's an inside look at 2016 NASCAR Can Am Duels:

2016 Can Am Duels

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We were down in the Daytona garages this morning, and as the teams were getting ready for the action later this weekend, we got a little caught up in some of the paint schemes you'll see this weekend. Here's a few that caught our eye:

Chase Elliott
It's going to take some time to get used to seeing any name other than "Jeff Gordon" on the car, but the Daytona 500 pole winner's ride is looking fresh. We're just happy to see the No. 24 still burning rubber.

Erik Jones
Anyone else getting hungry? The 2015 Camping World Truck Series champion has a full-time XFINITY Series ride for the upcoming season. The paint-out for the Powershares QQQ 300 satisfies our craving for more Jones (and mac n'cheese).

Derrike Cope
Cope's Ice-Aid paint out was cold as "Ice Ice Baby." The Derrike Cope Racing machine's primary for the 2016 season keeps things definitely keeps things cool under the hot Florida sun.

David Ragan
After driving for three different teams in 2015, we're sure David Ragan is thrilled to settle in with BK Racing for the upcoming season. He rolls into the 500 with a Dr. Pepper paint out that is truly "One of a Kind."

Richmond International Raceway
Call us a little biased, but we happen to think that this particular scheme was the hottest thing to arrive in Daytona for Speedweeks. You see a light bar on any of the other cars above? I didn't think so.

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Here's an inside look at whats going on at the NASCAR Sprint Cup practice sessions heading into the Can-Am Duels tomorrow night:

2016 Sprint Cup Duels Practice

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As the first two rounds of practice for tomorrow's Can-Am Duels wrapped up, we decided to wander around Daytona's brand new stadium. Somehow, we managed to not trip over our jaws as they dragging on the floor across Level One Concourse of this stunning facility. What's more - we recorded the trip, and are offering up what we think are some pretty cool features at the injectors.

Sunoco Injector

Located down at Turn 4, the Sunoco injector was where we began our mile-long journey. Complete with photo booths, merchandise and a pair of 24 stock cars (one of Gordon's and one of Elliott's give fans a taste of the old and new), Sunoco's injector really embodies how much it's ingrained in our sport. What really took the cake for us were a trio of interactive art pieces that gave fans the feeling of revving an engine to 10,000 RPM and kicking up some smoke in a burnout before celebrating in Victory Lane.

Toyota Injector

A Toyota Tundra once pulled a NASA Space shuttle - and they don't want you to forget it! A true homage to Toyota's history in auto racing, their injector was complete with models, their ride and drive center, reigning champ Kyle Busch's winning car and trophy.... oh, and a scale model of the space shuttle nose suspended on the wall. ('s up on the third level, so make sure to add it to your must-see list.)

Daytona World Center Injector

The World Center of Racing 
The official Daytona welcome center. Swing on through to share your Daytona experience with other fans on their fan engagement boards and sign the Start/Finish line that extends up THROUGH the concourse. But most importantly - come here for the view. It's out of this world. 

Chevrolet Injector

Chevy's into cars... and they want you to share in that love. Much of their space is dedicated to loving your car as they give guests a look at the inner-workings of their automobiles and showcase models both classic and new.

Florida Hospital
Love stargazing? Well, you can do that under a few tons of steel in the Florida Hospital injector, thanks to their breathtaking LED canopy near Turn One on the Level One Concourse. With a setting for Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and starry Night, it's just one piece of this tech-savvy injector. It also comes completes with interactive games in their Creation walkway, a back-lit fog projector, and serene waterfall.Yeah...count us in.

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An early morning look at the midweek storylines surrounding Speedweeks in Daytona.

Rise and shine race fans! Media Day was a blast, and as the focus now turns to the track, there's been a ton of buzz and excitement heading into this weekend's Daytona 500. Here are a few things we picked up on from yesterday's time with the drivers...

Locked and Loaded for Thursday
Don't expect the race rubbing from Saturday night's Sprint Unlimited to have any kind of effect on the on-track action for Thursday's duels. Any concerns about taking saving equipment for Sunday were quickly dismissed by 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick. "It's a race," the No. 4 driver said. "We're competitive and when that green flag drops, any kind of plan goes out the window and you just want to win." Brad Keselowski took a break from singing Rush to weigh in on his approach to Thursday's duels. "I've never been in a race where I didn't want to get out front and (race to win)."

Singing Chase's Praises
Chase Elliott made history Sunday by becoming the youngest-ever Daytona 500 pole winner. But don't think that the rest of the field views Chase as a mere fluke. Teammate Jimmie Johnson knows that Hendrick has something special in the rookie; "He's got a very good pulse on things. We all see it, we all know it." Matt Kenseth, who as of today will start opposite of Elliott on the front row of Sunday's race, has also been impressed by what he's seen of the rookie so far. "I'm not worried about (his lack of experience) at all. He's proven his ability over the last several years." 

A Stacked Rookie Class
Chase isn't the only rookie with his hat in the ring for the 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, with Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing), Chris Buescher (Front Row Motorsports) and Brian Scott (Richard Petty Motorsports) ready to go head-to-head. With 13 NASCAR National Series wins and three Series championships between them, drivers think this could be one of the deepest and most talented rookie classes to date.

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We dove head first into DAYTONA 500 prep today, starting bright and early at NASCAR Media Day. Check out the video above, and read up on the Top 5 best moments of the day below, but you can check us out on Snapchat to get all of the behind-the-scenes moments.

1. Dale Jr. Can’t Wait for Heat Racing at Richmond 
It’s no secret Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving the no. 88 Hellman’s Chevy at the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond in April – nor is he keeping his thoughts about the Dash 4 Cash heat racing setup under wraps. He likened the heat races to local track races – and said he knew fans would jump on board immediately. “In fact, I haven’t heard anyone who isn’t excited about heat races.” Same, Junior, same!  

2. Kurt Busch Autographed A Dog
Weirdest thing Kurt Busch has ever autographed? “They shaved the side of the dog, actually, and made me autograph it,” said Kurt. No word on if the dog has been bathed since. 

3. Richmond Day Racing is the Way to Hendricks’ Hearts
Winner of one of the only Sunday afternoon races at Richmond in the 2000s, Jimmie Johnson was excited to hear at the shift back to day racing in April. Said Johnson, “Our team always jokes that our performance is far better on a rained out day race on a Sunday than the night races, so when I heard the shift, me personally, and my team, all got excited. We thought, ‘Cool, we’ll really have a shot to win at Richmond now.’” Everyone else, you’ve been warned!  

4. Matt Kenseth is a Not-So-Secret Swiftie
Being dropped off at school by a NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion might seem like a dream to most kids, but Matt Kenseth’s girls really only focus on one thing. “When I drive the kids to school every morning I’m listening to Taylor Swift,” he said, laughing. That qualifies him for Dad of the Year in our book.  

5. Brad Keselowski’s Karaoke Song of Choice is “Tom Sawyer” by Rush
“There’s no other beat than that – it’s not even hard to sing along to. There’s not even that much singing,” said Brad Keselowski, after being asked what his karaoke song of choice is. We also learned he would like to learn to play the drums for this song, but this song only.

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Here's an inside look at whats going on at the World Center of Racing up to and including Media Day:

2016 Daytona Media Day

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RIR braves the weather and the inordinate amount of time together to make the trip to Daytona

We're family at RIR, so you could say our trip down to the World Center of Racing for the start of the 2016 NASCAR season is a bit of a "family vacation." While fighting like brothers and sisters all 10+ hours down I-95 South, we hit some pretty impressive numbers, like...


Miles traveled. And considering we caravanned with five cars, it's almost like we traveled 3,475 miles across...


States. Yup. We cruised from Virginia to North Carolina, crossed South of the Border in South Carolina, scoured the horizon for the Gaffney, Georgia Peach (only to realize it was several hours away), and finally crossed the Florida-Georgia Line into the Sunshine State. Throughout it all, we only made...


Pit stops. Well, three, if you count stopping at Daytona when we arrived. Even more impressive is that the pace car was able to make this incredible journey/feat of industry dedication on just...


Gallons of gas! Which is great, but almost as impressive was the...


Ounces of juice, coffee, Gatorade, Bojangles sweet tea and water consumed by the two individuals lucky enough to Snapchat along the East Coast in the RIR Pace Car. (Check out the story by adding us before it disappears!) In the end, enduring the countless Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift anthems was worth it because of the...


 Degree change in weather. It's 72 and breezy in Central Florida, guys - much warmer than the 22 degree snow storm we departed at 7:00 am this morning.

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RIR finally finds itself down in Daytona for Speedweeks

After almost 700 miles and 10 hours driving down the East Coast, RIR finally finds itself in Daytona for Speedweeks. To celebrate this truly momentous occasion, we're posting our daily five at five (albeit a bit behind schedule) and taking a look at some of the top storylines heading into Speedweeks.

Like Father Like Son
It's a tall order taking on the legacy of the 24, but Chase Elliott passed his first test with flying colors. With a lap speed of 45.845 seconds, the Sprint Series rookie became the youngest-ever winner of the Daytona 500 pole award. His father, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, was a four time winner of the award (last won in 2001), making Chase and Bill the fourth father/son duo to win poles for the 500 (Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr).

Fans all over the country can share their race day moments with one another thanks to NASCAR's new partnership with Snapchat. Starting with the Daytona 500 this Sunday, Snapchat will cover several races throughout the 2016 season. From the early morning tailgate to the champagne in Victory Lane, users can get an inside look at everything race day through the collective Live Story. For even more of a fix, add us on Snapchat too @ririnsider. 

Vickers Causes "The Big One"
While a back injury keeps Tony Stewart sidelined to start the 2016 season- fan-favorite Brian Vickers will take his place at the wheel of the No. 14. But after missing all but two races last season with blood clot issues, his initial return to a Sprint Cup Series ride was short-lived. A cut tire on lap 23 led to the Daytona "Big One," ending his night early. With plenty of track-time before the 500 on Sunday, there's still opportunity for Vickers to round into form.

In the first Sprint Cup action of 2016, Denny Hamlin took home his third Sprint Unlimited trophy, and second in three years. Only four cars in the field of 25 made it through the race unscathed- luckily for Denny he got his out of the way quickly. After some early race rubbing with Ricky Stenhouse Jr on lap 12, the Chester, VA native managed to race his way to an overtime win over Joey Logano (second), Paul Menard (third) and Kyle Larson (fourth). 

Fanatics Makes Daytona Debut
With over 100,000 square feet of retail space across 33 locations at the track, Fanatics...

Sorry about that. Unexpected John Cena insisted we mention him being the honorary pace car driver for the 500 on Sunday. 

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Join us throughout the week for exclusive content on and off the track.

Check out the week's schedule below to see whats happening on-track, and where we'll be when it is.

5:00 PM       NSCS Sprint Unlimited Practice            FoxSports 1
6:30 PM     NSCS Sprint Unlimited Final Practice FoxSports 1

10:30 AM NSCS Practice FoxSports 1
1:30 AM NSCS Practice FoxSports 1
8:15 PM NSCS Sprint Unlimited (LAPS, MILES) FOX

SPRINT UNLIMITED: A non-points paying race, the Sprint Unlimited is unique in its own way. With an eclectic field of former Sprint Unlimited champions,  2015 Chase drivers, Daytona 500 pole award winners and more- it'll be a wild ride. The format is 75 laps with a caution at lap 25, breaking the race into two segments.

1:15 PM NSCS Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying FOX

DAYTONA 500 QUALIFYING: Qualifying sets and locks in the front row. It also determines the lineup for the Can-Am Duels. Drivers qualifying in odd number positions will compete in the first duel and drivers qualifying in the even number positions will compete in the second duel.

We'll be hitting the road to Daytona. Add us on Snapchat @ririnsider and you can follow along our East Coast road trip and see the how RIR gets when we spend just a little too much time in the car together.

DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY: Join us as we go inside Daytona 500 Media Day. We'll have our ear to the ground to fill you in on the buzz surrounding the start of Speedweeks.

5:00 & 6:10 PM NSCS Practice FoxSports 1

We'll be taking a closer look at everything that has gone into the incredible Daytona Rising project, and show you how it's going to change the game for everyone (including your favorite Short Track).

Noon NSCS Duels Final Practice FoxSports 1

What do fans think about the new Daytona? Are they excited for the 2016 NASCAR season? The RIR team will be out and about talking with fans prior to the Duels later that evening.

7:00 PM NSCS Can-Am Duels (Two races, 60 laps apiece) FoxSports 1

CAN-AM DUELS: Get an early look at some heat-racing action! The Can-Am Duels lock in the rest of the field for the Daytona 500 with each race running 60 laps. The winner of the first Duel will start in third position and the winner of second Duel will start in fourth position. Drivers from the first duel will start in the odd number positions and drivers from the second duel will start in even numbers position.

10:30 AM - 3:55 PM NXS & NSCS Practice FoxSports 1

We'll be in the pits and roaming the garages throughout the day. Be sure to follow us on social media and check out our blog for the complete RIR Insider experience.
4:30 PM NCWTS Pole Qualifying FoxSports 1
7:30 PM NCWTS NextEra Energy Resources 250 (100 laps) FoxSports 1

10:00 AM NXS Pole Qualifying FoxSports 1
12:15 PM NSCS Final Practice FoxSports 1
3:30 PM NXS PowerShares QQQ 300 (120 laps) FoxSports 1

POWERSHARES QQQ 300: Get your first glimpse of the 2016 XFINITY Series field. Rookie of the Year candidate Erik Jones, budding star Darrell Wallace and more will duke it out with Sprint Cup regulars in the first race of the XFINITY Series season - names are made here.

1:00 PM Daytona 500 (200 laps) FOX

DAYTONA 500: The countdown is over. The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season launches with the Daytona 500 - and we'll be front and center sharing the view.
2016 Season Kicks Off with Sprint Unlimited on Saturday Night

Richmond, it's been three long months since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series put rubber to the pavement. But one international cycling tournament, four federal holidays, a snowstorm and several craft beer festivals later- the wait is finally over. Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway kicks off this weekend with the Sprint Unlimited on Saturday.

As all eyes turn to central Florida for the season's start, questions surrounding the 2016 season begin to surface. Will Rowdy Nation celebrate a Championship for the second year in a row? Is 2016 the year Junior brings home his first Sprint Cup trophy? And how the heck will the 24 look without Gordon behind the wheel? Who'll be breathing easy when they return to Richmond this September, and who'll feel the pressure of potentially missing the Chase cut?

No, Saturday won't answer many questions, but it will provide some damned good racing. With an eclectic field of former Sprint Unlimited champions,  2015 Chase drivers, Daytona 500 pole award winners and more - it's sure to be a wild ride. Here are a few to keep an eye on Saturday night:
  • Kyle Busch: Best driver rating at Daytona among active drivers. Won the race back in 2012. Oh yeah- and he's the defending champ.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Daytona's pied-piper. Junior's one of the best restrictor plate racers out there, and with four points-paying wins at Daytona, four Can-Am Duels wins, and two Sprint Unlimited wins, he's always an odds-on Speedweeks favorite.
  • Joey Logano: Finding recent success on restrictor plate tracks, Logano is one to keep an eye on Saturday night. His one win at Daytona comes in the 2015 Daytona 500, but Logano has proven that he has what it takes to make moves in the draft.
Be on the lookout for these drivers and the rest of the field on Saturday, February 13 during the Sprint Unlimited. Tune into FOX at 8 p.m. to catch all the action!
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