There was a lot to look at coming into Daytona. Kevin Harvick announcing his last season… Jimmie Johnson coming back… Kyle Busch in a Chevy…

With all of that, the NASCAR opener also signals the waking of racing across the country. Some tracks in the southern regions are already turning laps. NASCAR notes had already focused on a young woman (Katie Hettinger) taking the checkers at New Smyrna leading into Daytona weekend.

Some nice weather and and an open invitation had Virginia tracks turning some early practice laps as NASCAR was focused on the Great American Race. Among those was Motor Mile Speedway hosting a Daytona watch party in the suites and an open practice session for drivers and teams. This was a great opportunity to check how those winter builds and changes added up to track performance. It was also a good way to get some fans to the track to build some interest in the upcoming season.

We should also note, in this area of Virginia, Franklin County Speedway was hosting some lap sessions while Natural Bridge was working on track and structures.

Motor Mile, however, has some early traction as the SuperStar Racing Experience (SRX Racing) has Motor Mile on the schedule. There is also a partnership with Lonesome Pine Raceway that should make some waves in Southwest Virginia racing. Lonesome Pine is set for a season opener featuring the SMART Modifieds in March.

For Daytona, the “500” ended much the same as the Xfinity race the evening before. Some late race wrecks put the pressure on for another overtime green, white, checker finish. The speed and close racing put Aric Almirola into Travis Pastrana which set a spinning mess in motion. However, final lap rules played out again and the caution landed on the Kroger #47 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr for the win.

22023 Daytona 400 Winner – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr

Photo Gallery from Motor Mile Speedway – Open Practice, February 19, 2023

Jimmie Johnson won the Sprint All Star race. The five time Cup Champion took home the one million dollar prize with the #48 LOWE’S Chevy Crew and goes in the books as a four time winner of the event.

That about sums it up.

Except for the math of adding a million dollars to the ledger…

And the rain delay…  And two “rookies” on the grid…  And two brothers sharing the lead only to fall back…

There wasn’t much on the track for fans looking for chash-n-dash action. There was much hype coming in over rivalries and who might, or might not, bump another into a spin to make that final run for the checkered flag and the bank. For the most part, it was your typical “rubbin’ is racin” brand of driving. A few scraped or bounced or bumped but there wasn’t too much that will set the 2013 race into a “yeah, I was there!” memory. (more…)