NASCAR Drive for Diversity pit crew members Brehanna Daniels and Breanna O’Leary will make their DAYTONA 500® debut together as tire-changers on Cody Ware’s No. 52 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 during Sunday’s race at Daytona International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
In doing so, Daniels and O’Leary will become the first female graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program to go over the wall in the Great American Race®.
The tire-changers will be joined by tire-carriers Brandon Banks and Phil Thomas – also NASCAR Drive for Diversity pit crew alums – on the No. 52 Rick Ware Racing team for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™ race.
“The DAYTONA 500 is such a huge stage and getting to share the experience with Brehanna will make it that much sweeter,” said O’Leary, who made her debut in NASCAR’s top series at Michigan International Speedway in 2018. “We came in together, trained together and got better together – and now February 17 will be another milestone we get to share together.”
Daniels and O’Leary will return to the same iconic race track where they first pitted together for Rick Ware Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Coke Zero Sugar 400 last July.
“I’m really looking forward to pitting in the DAYTONA 500 and having my teammate alongside me,” said Daniels. “It’s incredible how far we’ve come in such a short time and I couldn’t be more excited to be back at Daytona International Speedway.”
In 2016, Daniels and O’Leary were recruited to the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program by Phil Horton, longtime pit crew coach for Rev Racing. O’Leary had been an outfielder on the Alcorn State University softball team and Daniels played Division I basketball at Norfolk State University.
The professional tire-changers now share an apartment in Concord, N.C., and have gone over the wall in more than 60 combined race events across NASCAR’s national series and the ARCA Menards Series.
None, however, is more prestigious than Sunday’s DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
“In NASCAR racing, the stage doesn’t get any bigger than this – it’s the DAYTONA 500,” said Jusan Hamilton, NASCAR director of racing operations and event management. “Brehanna, Breanna and their NASCAR Drive for Diversity teammates have trained diligently for this moment and have earned the opportunity to compete at this level. We’re excited to watch them perform on Sunday.”
“We are proud to have these remarkable women on our team and we look forward to having them join us more throughout the 2019 season,” said Rick Ware, owner of Rick Ware Racing. “Last July, Rick Ware Racing was the perfect fit for Brehanna and Breanna as the first female NASCAR Drive for Diversity tire-changers to pit on the same team at the Cup level. We have always stressed our family philosophy at RWR, so we welcomed them into our family and they performed very well.”
Daniels, O’Leary, Banks and Thomas are among more than 50 graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program currently working in the NASCAR industry. In 2019, 28 alums will begin the season pitting on Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams.
Last February, Derrell Edwards became the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity pit crew member to be part of a DAYTONA 500-winning team when driver Austin Dillon raced to Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway.
The 61st running of the DAYTONA 500 will be broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90, with additional coverage on NASCAR.com.