Ahead of the Daytona 500, President Donald Trump lavished praise on NASCAR and the drivers in an interview with Fox Sports. The president pointed out that he has been to the race before, and respects the drivers due to the dangers they face on the track. Trump served as grand marshal at the race, telling the drivers to "start your engines" to kick things off.
"It really is the great American race and I look at this as almost a patriotism kind of thing," Trump said when asked why he decided to attend Sunday's race. "It's incredible. The people are incredible. We love the area. We love this state and it's very exciting."
Trump said he had been to the race "four times before, as a civilian and now I'm in a different capacity." Although Trump is no longer a private citizen, he is still a citizen.
"We love NASCAR and we love the people of NASCAR," Trump added.
When asked what he enjoys about NASCAR personally, Trump said it was the "bravery" of the drivers.
"They do all the safety things and everything," Trump said. "It takes great courage. It's the speed. It's really the technology. You look at what's happened just over the last 10 years with the cars. I love to see it. I love to watch it."
Daytona 500 was a friendly venue for Trump, as he was met by an enthusiastic crowd cheering "USA" and "four more years." He also delivered brief remarks before the race.
"The Daytona 500 is the legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we've been hearing about for so many years," Trump said, later adding, "NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family and country."
Trump is the second president to serve as grand marshal at the Daytona 500, following President George W. Bush in 2004. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush attended the Firecracker 400 at Daytona in 1984 and 1992, respectively.
Trump's re-election campaign is also running a commercial during Fox's broadcast and flying a banner near the speedway.
"NASCAR fans are patriots who support the president in huge numbers, so we definitely wanted to communicate directly with them about keeping America great during the great American race," campaign manager Brad Parscale said last week.
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