Daytona Diary for Monday, February 17, 2014

Welcome from Daytona International Speedway.  I covered my first NASCAR race in 1987 at Watkins Glen.  Must confess, I didn’t know much about the sport, but quickly got hooked mainly because of the great television it provided with the breathtaking sights and sounds.  I have covered about 20 years of races at  The Glen and have enjoyed every minute of it.  This is my first Daytona 500 and I have been very eager for this week to arrive.  I spent some time at Daytona International Speedway back in December, had tremendous access to this storied track and got a feel for the week I (and you) are in for.
The Story: We needed a compelling storyline for this year’s race (other than can Jimmie Johnson win a 7th series title) and boy did we get one on Sunday.  Richard Childress has brought the famed #3 car back to NASCAR, the number Dale Earnhardt, Sr. made famous.  Childress’s grandson, Austin Dillon, is driving that car and all he did yesterday is secure the pole for the Great American Race at 196 MPH.  Martin Truex will start alongside him as he was second fastest.  This was EXACTLY what this race and the sport needed.  Dillon will have a tremendous amount of support behind him.  When it was announced this iconic number would be returning, there were mixed emotions.  Childress maintained the only way he would bring it back is if Dale, Jr. drove it or someone in the family.  Dillon is that guy and it will be fascinating to watch.
Weather:  The weather here at Daytona is expected to be perfect all week.  Sunny every day and temperature in the mid-70’s. 
Track under construction:  Daytona International Speedway is undergoing a $400 million Daytona Rising renovation that will be completed in January of 2016.  It’s a complete overhaul of the seating along the front stretch.  It’s been long overdue and in a couple of years, will be spectacular for the visitors.  All new seating, new luxury seating, the works.
For now, there are cranes and construction equipment around as they continue this project.
Check in each day as I will have a new entry and if you have a NASCAR question or observation, you can e-mail me at:  Also, please follow me on Twitter at john_kucko.

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