Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 4:01 pm
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – President Donald Trump made a dramatic entrance at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, setting off a raucous celebration at the famed NASCAR track.
Thousands cheered as Air Force One performed a flyover and landed at Daytona International Airport a few hundred yards behind the track. Trump’s motorcade arrived a few minutes later, prompting another loud ovation. Both entrances were broadcast on giant video boards around the superspeedway.
At least a dozen drivers were escorted from the pre-race meeting to a private introduction with Trump.
“I got to meet the president! How cool is that?” driver Aric Almirola said.
Trump is the grand marshal for the event, meaning he will give the command for drivers to start their engines. He then took a lap around the track in his limousine at the front of the 40-car field.
Photos of Air Force One and President George W. Bush departing outside the famed track in 2004, are regarded among the most iconic in racing history.
“That’s one of those things that everybody remembers,” Stenhouse said. “It’s such a cool picture to have, even if you are not leading. It is going to be special for all of us involved.”
The president’s visit was widely welcomed by fans. Trump 2020 flags flooded the infield, and some fans wore them as capes in the garage area.
Trump’s presence also created huge lines at entrances, with many fans complaining while waiting hours to get through security.
Among those who met them at the airport: current NASCAR chairman Jim France and fellow top executives Lesa France Kennedy and Ben Kennedy.