NASCAR: Michael Waltrip shares thoughts on what Daytona 500 means to him

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The Daytona 500 means a lot to many people. Michael Waltrip is no different.

His love for the race began with a road trip to the 1975 running to see his older brother, Darrell, compete. Michael was 11 at the time.

Four decades have passed since. Michael Waltrip would experience the greatest joy and deepest sorrow in the event – two victories in 2001 and 2003, but also, the loss of team owner and friend, Dale Earnhardt Sr., in a last-lap crash during the 2001 race.

As Waltrip prepares to race in his 28th Daytona 500 in place of Brian Vickers (who is recovering from December heart surgery), he has put down thoughts on what this particular race has meant to him in a column for the Associated Press. Here’s a clip of that:

I remember driving through that tunnel for the first time, seeing those high banks, just soaking in the enormity of the facility and the fact that all my racing legend heroes had won there. It is a feeling that never leaves you and it is what makes the Daytona 500 so intimately special to me.

My career defining moments happened there.

My greatest wins.

One of my greatest losses.

Deep emotions, Daytona stirs them all.

Michael writes about Vickers and his determination to stay competitive despite health woes in recent years, as well as his own beliefs that Michael Waltrip Racing can contend for the win on Feb. 22.

For more of Michael’s thoughts, go to the link above.

IndyCar race weekend doubleheader schedule at IMS road course

IndyCar weekend schedule Indianapolis
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The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time this season but with a weekend schedule that will put the action in front of fans for the first time in 2020.

The track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course will play host to IndyCar and sports cars series over four days. The action will begin Thursday with practice and concluding with an eight-hour race Sunday featuring the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America.

The NTT IndyCar Series will hold a Friday-Saturday race doubleheader called the Harvest GP presented by GMR.

ENTRY LISTS: Who’s racing IndyCar at IMS this weekend

The name is a nod to the Harvest Classic, which was held Sept. 9, 1916 to help the track stay solvent during World War I. The event had three races of 20, 50 and 100 miles (all won by Johnny Aitken) that was the only racing held outside May at IMS from 1911-93.

A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Harvest GP:

(All times are Eastern)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, Oct. 1

Noon — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America test session
2:25 p.m. — IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)
6:20 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 1 (NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, Oct. 2

10:20 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
1:40 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
3:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 (USA Network, NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, Oct. 3

10:20 a.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC Sports Gold)
12:10 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America qualifying
2:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
5:30 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America pole shootout

IndyCar weekend schedule: Sunday, Oct. 4

10 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America race