James Hylton, 74, gives Daytona 500 a final go
Steven Cole Smith
February 6, 2009
James Hylton was driving more than 174 mph at Daytona International Speedway, which, you would think, isn't bad for a 74-year-old. You'd be wrong. "We've got to pick it up some," Hylton said. "I think I can go a lot faster than that."
This afternoon, Hylton will try to qualify for Saturday's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, the ARCA season opener. But it is just a warm-up for Hylton, who will be back next week to try and qualify for the Daytona 500.
Hylton has run 601 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, and he hopes to make that 602 if his EM Motorsports team can get him in the Daytona 500. He nearly qualified in 2007, sat it out in 2008, and he's back for one more try. Hylton is celebrating his 50th year in NASCAR, starting out in 1959 as a mechanic for Rex White.
In December, Hylton brought a 2005 Ford Taurus to ARCA practice at Daytona, "and I kind of wish I had that car here," he said. "But this one will be fine." He wasn't expecting to drive in the ARCA race — at the December practice, his driver was Leilani Munter, 32-year-old racer and model and former Indy Pro Series driver. "But she wasn't able to get a sponsor," Hylton said, "so here I am."
Hylton's ARCA car is sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Tennessee-based group made up of "male descendants of any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces," according to the organization's rules