Tampa, Florida- 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series champ Brad Keselowski took a piece of romaine lettuce and held it up. A towering giraffe named Cupid politely latched on and lunched. It was just one of the experiences Keselowski's schedule during a stop in Tampa.
Keselowski and Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III came to the area, along with the Daytona 500 trophy, to promote this year's 2011 Daytona 500.
Photo Gallery: Nationwide champ visits Busch Gardens
The trip to Busch Gardens was nothing new for Chitwood, who grew up blocks away from Westshore Mall and went to USF. Still, the speedway executive enjoyed feeding giraffes along Busch Gardens' Serengeti Plain and taking part in an up close-up rhino encounter.
Chitwood, by the way, has an extremely unique distinction as one of just two administrators to run both the Indianapolis and Daytona International Speedways.
"I think about coming here when I was a young person, whether I was in elementary school, coming out here to ride rollercoasters and things like that," says Chitwood. "Now, here I am as the president of Daytona with Brad Keselowski, the Nationwide champion, and we're feeding rhinos and giraffes! I'm leading a great sports property and, you know, for me it's been a great run."
Brad and Joie were also invited to Wednesday night's Lightning game against the Capitals where they offered the "Let's Play Hockey" command to start the game.
The 53rd running of the Daytona 500 is February 20th and will also kick off the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on a new racing surface. Following the July Coke Zero 400, Daytona International Speedway's entire 2.5-mile tri-oval, skid pad, apron and pit road was repaved for only the second time in history.
Keselowski is entering his second full season at Penske Racing in the Sprint Cup Series and will be taking over the driving duties on the famous No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, a car that has been driven by Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch.
"Huge opportunity , that I'm just grateful to have," says Keselowski. "It means so much to the sport, that car's been around for a long time, it's kind of an icon, it's the blue deuce, all the fans know it by name and we want to return it to Victory Lane."