Even with rain delay, Duck Commander 500 sets numerous souvenir sales marks for Texas Motor Speedway

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If you see Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage walking around with a noticeable waddle and he keeps quacking, there’s no need for concern.

While some critics questioned the wisdom of naming this past weekend’s Sprint Cup race the Duck Commander 500, Gossage is laughing at those same critics all the way to the bank.

TMS issued a media release Thursday that Duck Commander-branded merchandise sold at the track this past weekend, as well as online, set several sales records for the track.

Although actual monetary and sales amounts were not released, check out some of these numbers:

* The overall weekend, even with Sunday’s race being delayed to Monday, was one of the highest grossing race weekends in the track’s 18-year history.

* Speedway World, the standalone souvenir store located just outside turn 2, reported its best race week sales total since 2000. And, parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc. Properties enjoyed its best overall event sales total since April’s Samsung Mobile 500 in April 2009.

* A Duck Commander 500 trailer, specially designed and wrapped for this event, was located at Texas Motor Speedway’s main gate entrance and accounted for 14.6 percent of the total sales.

* Online sales were more than 900 percent higher than a typical NASCAR race weekend.

* The revenue total, although not released, was up 81 percent from last year’s April NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NRA 500 doubleheader weekend.

The hottest-selling items were Duck Commander 500 camouflage caps, camo t-shirts, total print t-shirts, feather flags, legacy t-shirts, splash-down t-shirts, koozies and bandanas.

Given the record-setting numbers this past weekend, one must wonder what TMS does for an encore.

Bring back the Robertson family and Duck Commander for two more years, that’s what.

(Can we refer to the next two years as Duck Commander 2.0 and 3.0?)

The track will also continue selling Duck gear at its June 5-7 IndyCar weekend, as well as the Oct. 30-Nov. 2 Chase for the Sprint Cup weekend event.

If you missed your chance to get in on some of the merchandise, get quacking and go to www.GoSpeedwayWorld.com.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.