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Hello from Dual Day (and Duel Day) at Daytona

Good morning from Daytona Beach, Fla., on what should be an eventful day with the two 150-mile qualifying races. They are dual races billed as duels. Some nice homophone action.

DaytonamornI'll have some blurbs here throughout the day, and there will be a separate post to follow the qualifying races later on.

10:50 a.m. Hello from the infield media center at Daytona International Speedway.   

11:06 a.m. Fox Sports is holding a press conference right now to unveil a merchandise line based on the cartoon gopher named "Digger" which pops up when Fox uses its cool in-track camera. No kidding.

Prior to the "presser" (media term), little pen-and-notebook sets with "Digger's Race Club" were handed out in the media center. Also not kidding.

11:15 a.m. A technical goof just imported the audio from some guy trying to hype up a crowd somewhere on the grounds, "We got any NASCAR fans out there?" Darrell Waltrip doesn't miss a beat: "I'm a NASCAR fan!"

11:20 a.m. Some interesting discussion during the press conference about newspapers. Fox Sports chairman David Hill said that in television they're always trying to keep up with the latest this, the latest that, but -- with the exception of USA Today -- if you pick up a newspaper today it looks about the same as a newspaper did 50 years ago. That certainly could be argued to an extent, but his point is a good one that the industry needs to adapt to the Web, etc.

He also said he thought newspapers will never die. Booyah.  

12:40 p.m. Was just outside the media center making a call and getting some sun, and you know the Digger stuff I just sorta made fun of? There's a car with a Fox/"Digger" paint job right outside, and people are flocking to it and snapping away with their digital cameras.

12:45 p.m. Was nearly trampled as the media center put out lunch. Baddump-bump.

2 p.m. We couldn't track down Lockport natives Mike Hillman Sr. and Jr. in the truck garage -- hopefully we'll catch them later. We'll be doing posting separate entries for live blogging of the qualifying races.

Img5687:06 p.m. We haven't gotten our blog on here in a bit because we had separate ones for the first qualifying race won by Jeff Gordon and  the second won by Kyle Busch.

 We just returned from the truck garage where we talked with Lockport natives Mike Hillman Sr. and Mike Hillman Jr. "Mike senior" is the team manager of the No. 30 Toyota truck driven by Todd Bodine, the defending champion of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Friday night's 8 p.m. truck race here). "Mike junior" is the crew chief.

The (awful, fuzzy, took-it-with-my-phone) picture at right is a view from the top of the No. 30 hauler in the truck garage in the infield (the tall blur is the scoring tower). And when I say truck garage, I mean a fenced-in portion of parking lot where all the teams have their haulers and set up tents.

Despite being one of the best teams in the truck series, the No. 30 doesn't have a sponsor right now due to the slumping economy, which is hurting the trucks worse than it is the rest of auto racing (which is getting hit fairly hard overall). Well, gotta get typing. 

---Keith McShea

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