Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a campaign visit to Daytona International Speedway Sunday, just hours before the annual Daytona 500 and two days removed from an important primary battle in Michigan.
|Vickers and Romney toured Daytona|
Surrounded by a protective cadre of Secret Service agents, Romney circulated through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage as teams prepared for the first race of the 2012 season, shaking hands and posing for photos with team members and fans before addressing a large crowd at the pre-race driver’s meeting. He spoke at length with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing co-owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates, and was accompanied for much of his visit by driver Brian Vickers, who is still seeking a ride for the 2012 season.
“I’m a supporter of his, and I like his policies,” said Vickers, amid rumors that he is lobbying the Romney campaign to back a possible Sprint Cup bid this season. Rival Rick Santorum is sponsoring Tony Raines and the No. 26 Front Row Motorsports Ford in the Daytona 500. Asked if he would be rooting against Raines Sunday, Romney laughed, “I hope all the cars have a good race.”
The Republican frontrunner said his Daytona visit was less a campaign appearance and more “a sign of a guy who loves cars. (Daytona) has always been a place where American cars have shined,” he said. “(There is) a long history from Daytona being connected with Detroit, Detroit cars and the spirit of America.
“I appreciate the spirit of the men and women that are driving today,” said Romney. “This is a chance to look at the determination and great qualities of the human spirit. This is quintessentially American. I love what you’re doing, I’m happy to be here today (and I) wish you all the very best and God bless this great nation of ours.”