President Trump did a quarter-lap at the Daytona 500 to kick off the annual racing event in Daytona, Florida this weekend.
Tens of thousands of race car fans greeted the president with Trump 2020 flags. He arrived in Air Force One at the Daytona International Airport only 800 feet above the stadium, then drove into the stadium with his full motorcade on the speedway, according to Breitbart. The crowd burst into chants of “U-S-A” as the plane flew overhead.
“NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family, country,” he said. “Rubber will burn, fans will scream and the great American race will begin.”
He also thanked Gold Star families, who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, who were attending the race as well. Then, he gave the famous lines: “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
Before the race, Fox News interviewed the president about his NASCAR attendance.
“I think it’s really the bravery of these people…it takes great courage, it’s the speed, it’s really the technology, looking at what’s happened in the last ten years with the cars. I love to see it, I love to watch it,” he said of the four other NASCAR events he’s attended.
During the broadcast, a re-election campaign ad aired to publicize Trump’s work.
“America is great, better than ever,” the commercial began. It continued to highlight Trump’s efforts to boost the economy, secure more jobs, lower unemployment, respect veterans, and secure the borders.
“We are proud to be Americans. Proud of our country, families, and our flag. God bless America and the best is yet to come,” it finished.
The Hill reports that First Lady Melania Trump attended the race with him, as well as Reps. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), and Gov. Ron DeSantis.
According to CBN, Trump is the second president to attend the Daytona 500. President George W. Bush was the first in 2004.
CBS Sports reports that after completing more than 200 laps around the track, driver Denny Hamlin won the two-day race for the second time. Also notably, during the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday, driver Ryan Newman – who had just taken the lead – was clipped by a car from behind forcing his Ford Mustang to spinout. Unable to steer clear of Newman’s car, another driver hit directly into the side of Newman’s car sending it airborne before it burst into flames. Still on fire, Newman's vehicle skidded across the finish line on its roof.
A statement from NASCAR indicates that Newman is in serious but not life-threatening condition.
February 18, 2020
President Trump extended prayers to the 42-year-old driver tweeting, “Praying for Ryan Newman, a great and brave NASCAR driver! #PrayingForRyan”
Praying for Ryan Newman, a great and brave @NASCAR driver! #PrayingForRyan— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2020
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chris Graythen/Staff
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.