President to attend Daytona 500

President to attend Daytona 500



DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- President Bush will bring his re-election campaign to the Daytona 500.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Friday that Busch will attend NASCAR's biggest race Feb. 15.

It will be Bush's second visit to Daytona International Speedway, where he was grand marshal for the Pepsi 400 in July 2000. His father, George H.W. Bush, attended the July race in 1992 during his unsuccessful presidential re-election campaign.

President Ronald Reagan attended the 1984 Daytona 500.

Bush needs more support from voters with a high school education or less, who currently are more inclined to vote against him, according to an AP-Ipsos poll. The NASCAR crowd is increasingly diverse, however, and includes far more upscale, well-educated voters than the auto racing crowds of 20 years ago.

* Reinstated: Shane Hmiel, suspended last September for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy, is eligible for reinstatement and pland to compete in the Craftsman Truck series race Friday at Daytona International Speedway.

The 23-year-old driver has already been back in a race car in 2004, qualifying 11th for the ARCA series event here Saturday. ARCA is not sanctioned by NASCAR.

"Our consultant in these matters recommended Shane be allowed to return to competition," NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Friday.

Under NASCAR's substance abuse policy, all competitors are subject to random drug testing.

The substance involved was never revealed, but NASCAR officials said when he was suspended that Hmiel could seek reinstatement after agreeing to attend counseling and undergoing periodic random testing.

* Ready to roll: Morgan-McClure Motorsports, a three-time winner of the Daytona 500, will field a fully sponsored No. 4 Chevrolet for Kevin Lepage in qualifying Sunday for the race a week later.

The team, which struggled in 2003 while using six different drivers and racing in just 30 of the 36 Cup events, said Friday it has signed a one-year sponsorship agreement with YOKE, a web-based television station that begins broadcasting May 1.

"The people are exciting that we're going to work with," said team president Larry McClure. "They are going to bring in some TV personalities and sports personalities and it's going to create excitement all year long."

Ernie Irvan got the team's first Daytona victory in 1991, and Sterling Marlin won consecutively in 1994 and 1995.


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