The Harley J Earl Trophy is given to the Winner of the Daytona 500

The NASCAR Daytona 500 in 2018 is the 60th running of the American Race. In honor of this, General Motors has brought out the Firebird 1 concept car to display to the fans. Looking at the picture one could wonder what this particular car, which looks nothing like a stock car, has to do with the Daytona 500.

Jim Campbell, US Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Rick Hendrick, Team Owner, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress, Team Owner, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi, Team Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing and Richard Petty, Team Owner, Richard Petty Motorsports
Jim Campbell, US Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, Rick Hendrick, Team Owner, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress, Team Owner, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi, Team Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing and Richard Petty, Team Owner, Richard Petty Motorsports

In 1953 Harley J. Earl designed the Firebird 1 prototype. Earl is sometimes referred to as the father of the Corvette. Earl was also the Second Commissioner of NASCAR.

Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, poses for a photo during the Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo Credit: 353893 Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, poses for a photo during the Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo Credit: 353893 Jerry Markland/Getty Images

The Trophy awarded to the Winners of the Daytona 500 is called the Harley J. Earl Trophy. It is adorned on top by a model of the iconic Firebird 1 concept car in honor to Earl. The Trophy stays in Daytona and each winner receives a smaller replica.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

 Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: Harold Hinson Photography for Chevy Racing

Kyle Busch Doesn’t Like the Emphasis Being Given to Younger Drivers

NASCAR driver Kyle Busch created quite a stir a couple of weeks ago when he was asked if there was an emphasis on the younger generation of drivers and whether it bothered him.

It is bothersome. We’ve paid our dues, and our sponsors have and everything else, and all you’re doing is advertising all these younger guys for fans to figure out and pick up on and choose as their favorite driver.” Busch added, “I think it’s stupid. But I don’t know, I’m not the marketing genius that’s behind this deal. You know, I just do what I can do, and my part of it is what my part is. I guess one thing that can be said is probably the younger guys are bullied into doing more things than the older guys are because we say no a lot more because we’ve been there, done that and have families, things like that, and want to spend as much time as we can at home. You know, maybe that’s some of it. But you know, it’s some of these marketing campaigns and things like that, pushing these younger drivers, is I wouldn’t say all that fair.

In 2001 Kyle Busch drove the No. 99 Ford Truck in what was then the Craftsman Truck Series in six races. He was 16. He had two top ten finishes; finishing ninth in his first race at IRP and last race at this home track at Las Vegas. He could not race at California as the tobacco company who sponsored the race objected to a 16-year-old racing.

In December of 2001, NASCAR enacted a rule that all drivers had to be 18 years old in order to compete in all three-top series. Kyle Busch was not able to race in 2002 and until his 18th birthday in May of 2003. Roush was not able to hold the 99 Truck open in 2003 for Busch as they had another great driver, Carl Edwards, available.

If only NASCAR found a way to embrace young talented drivers. Such as finding ways for the sponsor to change the message such as the “21 means 21” message when a driver under 21 would win the Coors Light Pole.

On Twitter and at the track, I have met a lot of Kyle Busch fans. They are very passionate. They are also very young. When I say young; I mean under 30 young. The demographic that NASCAR needs and wants.

Oh, what could have been. Imagine how much more phenomenal Kyle would be had he been able to compete in the Truck Series in 2002 and 2003. Could this have brought more attention to NASCAR? Could this have brought even more young fans to NASCAR?

Kyle Busch is right. NASCAR is putting an emphasis on the younger drivers. They must in order to keep the series fresh. It is not a slight on the seasoned veterans and their sponsors; who as Busch said “paid our dues”. More eye balls watching is good for everyone. That is the goal.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

 Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 352835 Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images