Trump at NASCAR, the Miller-Waldman Wedding and Ryan Newman's Rapid Recovery
02/23/2020
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The NASCAR racing fan base is part of Trump Country, and it's good that Trump is paying attention to them.

Last April 30th, NASCAR champion Joey Logano was received at the White House, along with wife Brittany, team owner Roger Penske and other members of Team Penske.  Logano's 2018 Ford Fusion, #22, was parked in front of the South Portico. (See here).

More recently, on February 16th, Trump and Melania attended NASCAR’S Daytona 500 race in Florida. Trump was the Grand Marshal. It was a great appearance, and they were well-received by the audience.

Only twenty laps were run that day though, due to rain, and the rest of the race was postponed until the following day.

From USA Today:

President Donald Trump participated in the ceremonial pre-race events at Sunday’s Daytona 500, the biggest NASCAR race of the year, which also opens the 2020 season. The President was greeted with loud cheers during a pre-race speech, which began at 2:33 p.m. ET and lasted roughly four minutes. Flanked by first lady Melania Trump, Trump began his remarks with, "My fellow race fans, the Daytona 500 is a legendary display.” He closed with, "Rubber will burn, fans will scream and the great American race will begin." He ended his remarks at 2:37 p.m. ET to chants of “USA” and to his 2016 campaign tune, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Trump then served as the race’s grand marshal — only the fourth sitting president to do so for a race at Daytona International Speedway — giving what’s commonly described as the most famous words in motor sports: “Gentlemen, start your engines.” In recent years, the command traditionally has started with the gender-neutral address “Drivers,” but there were no women competing in the Daytona 500 this year.

After fulfilling this [sic] grand marshal duties, the motorcade drove down pit road and around the iconic 2.5-mile race track, with the 40-car field and the pace car behind it, which was a first for a sitting president. However, the 22,000-pound presidential limousines remained on the inside of the track below the apron and did not go up the track’s banking.

His lap was met with wild cheers from his supporters in the crowd at the Daytona track, where flying “Make America Great Again” flags in the infield have been nearly as ubiquitous as American and NASCAR-related flags in recent years.

PresidentTrumpdeliversthecommandtostarttheDaytona500toloudcheers, by Michelle R. Martinelli, USA Today, February 16, 2020

Trump even addressed all the drivers over their radios, and told them:

"Drivers: It was an honor to officially open this year’s Daytona 500 and drive the first Parade Lap with you. Thank you. You are the best in the world at what you do, and I want to wish you luck in today’s Daytona 500. I hope you all have a fantastic race.

"You should all be proud to be competing in this incredible event. The Daytona 500 is the biggest race in the world and all of America is watching. Give the fans a great show!

"And to all the race fans. I love your passion for this sport. I hope you enjoy The Great American Race! God Bless you and God Bless the United States of America!”…

Upon Trump's arrival, Air Force One had flown by.

Earlier, around 1 p.m. ET, Air Force One flew by the track before landing at adjacent Daytona Beach International Airport as “USA!” chants broke out among supporters in the infield.

But the race didn’t last long that today. Due to rain, only twenty laps were completed and the Daytona 500 was postponed until the following day. [Rains postpone Daytona 500, dampening NASCAR’s season opener, Associated Press, February 16, 2020

That evening, back in Washington, Trump and Melania attended the wedding of his immigration advisor Stephen Miller and Katie Waldman, press Secretary for Vice-President Pence. [Stephen Miller weds Pence press secretary — with Trump in attendance, by Emily Jacobs, New York Post, February 17, 2020]

Congratulations and Best Wishes to Stephen and Katie.

The next day, the 17th, the rest of the Daytona 500 was held, won by Denny Hamlin. But the euphoria was marred by a terrible accident at the very end of the race. From CBS Sports:

The celebration in victory lane was muted after Hamlin's win because of a crash on the final lap of the green-white-checker finish that saw Ryan Newman's No. 6 car go airborne and flip on the track several times after jockeying for position with Hamlin and Ryan Blaney as they came to the finish line. Before going off the air, the Fox television broadcast said that Newman was being taken by ambulance to a Daytona area hospital.

Daytona 500 updates: Ryan Newman in serious condition after fiery crash; Denny Hamlin wins race, by Andrew Julian, CBS Sports, February 17, 2020

Here’s a video of Ryan Newman’s crash here.

That night Trump tweeted

Two days after the crash, on the 19th, Ryan Newman was released from the hospital, walking out in his street clothes with his two daughters. [Ryan Newman released from hospital; walks out with daughters, by Nate Ryan, NBC Sports, February 19, 2020]

Kudos to Trump for honoring and participating in NASCAR, and for praying for and tweeting about an injured race car driver. People appreciate that.

 

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