Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t the only winner emerging from Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Just one day after Earnhardt crossed the finish line and took the checkered flag in his second career victory of the Great American Race, Lionel Racing began selling and producing a die-cast model of Junior’s 500-winning car.
And even though it’s only been five days since Junior’s Daytona triumph, the new version is already on track to become the best-selling car in Lionel Racing’s fleet ever since it became the Official Die-Cast of NASCAR in 2010, the company said in a press release on Friday.
According to the company, “Just 12 hours after Earnhardt took the checkered flag in the sport’s biggest race of the season, sales of the die-cast were more than double the first full day’s sales of any previous win car – including Earnhardt’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Michigan Win car from 2012.”
The company said that as of Monday, die-cast orders on the company’s web site were selling at a rate of more than 100 per hour, with similar record levels trending at distributors and dealers.
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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.