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NASCAR Championship celebrations continue for Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson

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Though the NASCAR season ended at the Homestead-Miami Speedway nearly a month ago, celebrations are still continuing for the champions of the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. On Monday, Dec. 16, Austin Dillon, the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series driver champion, and his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Nationwide team, were honored today with a full day of activities, hosted by series sponsor Nationwide Insurance in its headquarters’ hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

"It has been a big week,” said Dillon, who last week announced that he will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014. “I’m thankful for Nationwide Insurance and everybody that has made it possible for us to race in such a great series. I’m looking forward to being at Champion’s Day in Columbus. It is an honor and a privilege to represent Nationwide as their champion today. I am excited to celebrate this championship with my team, including my crew chief Danny Stockman.”

This is the sixth consecutive year Nationwide Insurance has welcomed the series driver champion to its home turf, and the second time an RCR driver has been honored (Clint Bowyer, 2008). The day began with a visit to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Then Dillon and the No. 3 team received a tour of Nationwide’s corporate headquarters, participated in an exclusive Q&A session and signed autographs for Nationwide associates on site.

Following lunch, the driver champion team headed to The Ohio State University for a tour of the famed Woody Hayes Athletic Complex, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ football practice facility.

Late in the afternoon and early evening, the team traveled to the Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League, for a tour of the facility and a game of broomball on the Jackets’ home ice. Shortly thereafter, team members were once again be introduced to a Columbus, Ohio original: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Jeni’s was a garage favorite earlier this year at the inaugural Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The day concluded with a short trip back to Nationwide Arena for “NASCAR Night” where the team enjoyed the 7 p.m. ET matchup between the Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets and be recognized at the game.

For 6-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, it has been yet another offseason where he revels in his championship glory, and the team plans on a way to strive or seven in 2014. His quest for yet another championship begins at the "world center of racing," the Daytona International Speedway, on Sunday, Feb. 23.

The speedway recently announced that it has teamed up with the two-time defending Daytona 500 champion for a special ticket package, “The 48 Family Experience,” during the 56th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

The package, which is available for $148 and will go on sale Dec. 17, includes one adult Daytona 500 backstretch tower seat, one child (ages 12 & under) Daytona 500 backstretch tower seat, and a 15-minute question and answer session with Johnson, as well as Daytona International Speedway special giveaways. Children attending the question and answer session will also have the opportunity to put together a Lowe’s Build and Grow race car.

Johnson became the first driver since NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison in 1982 to win the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in the same season. Other drivers to have accomplished the sweep were Fireball Roberts (1962), Cale Yarborough (1968) and LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969).

Tickets for “The 48 Family Experience” are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/48 or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

If you can't wait until February to experience the high-banked thrill of stock car racing at the "world center of racing," you're in luck. From Friday, Dec. 20 through Sunday, Dec. 22, approximately 50 drivers will participate in a three-day ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards test session in advance of the 51st annual Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAV TV American Real on Saturday, Feb. 15, part of Budweiser Speedweeks 2014.

The cars will take to the track between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day of the event, and include some of the greatest up and coming names in the sport. Among the drivers expected to be testing include:

· Bobby Gerhart, eight -time Lucas Oil 200 champion

· Chase Elliott, son of two-time Daytona 500 champion Bill Elliott

· Justin Allison, grandson of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison

· Will Kimmel, nephew of defending ARCA champion Frank Kimmel

A section of the Oldfield Grandstands will be open free to the public with access available through the lobby of the Daytona International Speedway ticket office.

Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #NASCAR, #DAYTONA500 and #ROADTODAYTONA. Fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news all season long.

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