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DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — President Donald Trump gave an election-year embrace to NASCAR and its fans Sunday when he became the second president ever to attend the Daytona 500.
Given the honor of commanding drivers to start their engines, Trump made a grand entrance before the start of the race. He gave thousands of fans a flyover of Air Force One and then rode onto the track in the presidential motorcade as the audience roared with delight. The motorcade took roughly a quarter lap before pulling aside in an infield staging area.
President George W. Bush also appeared at the race during his re-election year.
Trump’s re-election campaign planned to run an ad during the Fox broadcast of the race and fly an aerial banner near the speedway. About 100,000 people were expected to attend this year’s race and millions more will watch on television. About 9 million people took in last year’s race on television.
Trump tweeted Sunday morning: “Getting ready to go to the Daytona 500. Will be GREAT!”
After his scheduled return Sunday evening to Washington, Trump will embark later this coming week on Western state swing that will take him to rallies planned in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The trip is another demonstration of Trump’s willingness to campaign not just in conservative strongholds, but in states that lean Democratic, particularly Colorado, where Republican Sen. Cory Gardner faces a tough re-election battle. Arizona is expected to be a key swing state in the presidential election with its growing population of Hispanic voters.