The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Two women are making their mark in the racing world.
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Two women will participate in Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 as members of the pit crew for Rick Ware Racing.
Brehanna Daniels and Breanna O’Leary, products of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, will change the tires for the No. 51 Chevy Camaro driven by Ray Black Jr.
According to an official NASCAR release, Daniels is believed to be the first female African-American pit crew member in a national series event.
The 24-year-old played basketball for two seasons at Norfolk State University, a MEAC rival of Bethune-Cookman.
“It’s hard to believe I’ve only been changing tires for two years and now I’m here at the Monster Energy (Cup) Series level,” Daniels said. “What I’m doing in NASCAR is so much bigger than me. It’s been so rewarding to be part of history while at the same time inspiring others to take on challenges they thought might not be possible.”
O’Leary will be making her second Cup Series appearance this year for the No. 51 team (Michigan, June 10). She played softball and worked in the strength and conditioning department at Alcorn State University.
Daniels and O’Leary, who share an apartment together in Charlotte, N.C., were both recruited to NASCAR’s diversity development program in 2016. In total, six females have now reached NASCAR’s highest level.
Daytona 500 celebration never ends for Dillon
Austin Dillon has learned over the past five months that the celebration never ends for a Daytona 500 champion.
“It’s been really special,” Dillon said ahead of Thursday’s Cup practice. “Last week with the Cubs I did the seventh inning stretch, and that was really special. I was nervous. Any time you get nervous it’s a big deal.”
Dillon certainly didn’t show any nerves during February’s 500, as he sent Aric Alrmirola spinning into the wall on the final lap to secure his second career victory. The 28-year-old famously took his entire pit crew to a local tattoo parlor that night to celebrate, and that was just the first stop for Dillon over the next five months.
“I had an interview with a guy from the New York Stock Exchange, it was a podcast, and it was one of the best I’ve ever had with someone,” he said. “Hanging out with Shaquille O’Neal was really cool, too. We sat in a really small radio room, and he was piled in the corner, and he wrapped his hand around mine like twice when I shook it. I’ve always been a fan of his. (Appearing on the morning talk show) Live with Kelly and Ryan, I was really nervous for that, too.”
On Friday, Dillon will get to relive his Daytona 500 triumph once more when his signature, hand and right foot prints are cemented into the Daytona 500 Champions’ Walk of Fame.
Speedway President Chip Wile will be on hand for the event, which is open to the public and will take place outside the Ticket and Tours building at 3 p.m.
“There have been a lot of fun things that come with the 500 win,” Dillon said. “It feels good to do this stuff.”
Gallagher ‘grateful’ after reinstatement
Reinstated on Wednesday after completing NASCAR’s Road to Recovery, Spencer Gallagher expressed gratitude to be back behind the wheel.
Suspended on May 2, three days after notching his first Xfinity Series victory at Talladega, Gallagher violated NASCAR’s substance abuse policy. He will return to the No. 23 Chevrolet next week at Kentucky.
NASCAR did not disclose the details of Gallagher’s violation, and Gallagher declined to comment about the specific substance for which he was penalized.
“Narrow and straight is the road of righteousness, as they say, and all it takes is one slip-up in life to really affect it and take a lot away from you,” Gallagher said during an interview on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio with Claire B. Lang. “I feel I did lose a lot. I’m so grateful to be back in the seat come Kentucky and to be back in NASCAR competition.”
Chase Elliott will drive the No. 23 car for the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250. Elliott, Johnny Sauter, Justin Haley and Alex Bowman have split driving duties in the six races Gallagher has been absent.
Gallagher, who said he will attend Friday’s race as a spectator, currently sits 14th in the points standings, but is ineligible for the postseason. However, he said he is still eligible to win an owner’s title for GMS Racing.
“The way I look at it, I’ve got two objectives from here to Homestead,” Gallagher said. “I’m going to try and win as many races as I possibly can for GMS and do as best I can. I’m going to triple down my commitment with everything I’m trying to do for this team. By God, I’m going to try and get us an owner’s championship.
“(The owners) put their hearts into this, and the least I can do after all this is pull my end and make sure we see some results out of this year.”
Elliott will race with sprained ankle
Speaking of Chase Elliott, it turns out he will play through the pain during this weekend.
Elliott tweeted on Thursday morning that he sustained a sprained ankle while “horsing around at the pool.” He said X-rays came back negative and that he’ll be “good to go” for double duty.
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