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Racing legend to compete in Daytona

POSTED: February 1, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Bill Elliott announced last week a partnership that will put the 1988 Cup champion from Dawsonville behind the wheel of a blue No. 50 Walmart-sponsored Chevy in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July.

The retail giant unveiled the Legends of Racing venture as part of its 50th anniversary celebration last week during the annual Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte.

While officials with Walmart say they have no intentions of expanding the sponsorship past the July 7 race in Daytona, local racing historian Gordon Pirkle predicts fans will see the mega-retailer's NASCAR involvement grow.

"This deal is unique and could be something real big," he said.

This is Walmart's first NASCAR Cup sponsor, which will also include additional driver appearances at stores and a larger selection of authentic NASCAR merchandise.

Pirkle said the sponsorship could also be a springboard for Elliott's son Chase, who's making his own name in racing.

"I think it's real good for Chase that Bill's keeping his name out there," he said. "This may be leading into something good down the road for Chase."

Elliott, 56, competed in five Cup races last season, four with Phoenix Racing and one with Whitney Motorsports.

Elliott, who has run a part-time schedule since 2003, is guaranteed a starting spot at Daytona from his past champion's provision.

His last top-10 finish came in 2004 at Indianapolis.

Elliott, a Dawsonville native, has been named NASCAR's Most Popular Driver a record 16 times.

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