Sunshine at Night - It might be a night race, but there will be Sunshine tonight at the Dollar General 300. Sunshine, a 13-year-old Labrador retriever, will be the honorary Grand Marshal (also dubbed the “dognitary”) for tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sunshine won the ALPO Honorary Grand Marshal contest, conducted by Performance Racing Network, after her name was submitted by owner Christy Bradburn, of Massanutten, Va.

Before she headed out to perform her duties tonight, which includes riding around the track in the pace car with her head hanging out the window, Sunshine visited the Time Warner Media Center.

“She’s very excited,” Bradburn said over a chorus of barks from Sunshine.

ALPO Brand Manager Lisa Pacatte said Sunshine was chosen because she embodies the true spirit of a “real dog,” including romps in the mud, splashing in the algae-covered pond and chasing the mailman.

They Come from a Land Down Under - Since Geoff Hollingsworth and Frank Anastasopoulos began their first trip to America from Melbourne, Australia, they’ve seen Disneyland, the Everglades, the Kennedy Space Center and the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, where they met Garlits in person. But it’s this weekend’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway that’s got them really excited.

“This, for me, is the pinnacle,” said Hollingsworth. “The atmosphere is just exploding. There are so many people, and it’s just so impressive.”

Hollingsworth’s enthusiasm has been contagious for Anastasopoulos, his son-in-law.

“This is unbelievable,” Anastasopoulos said. “The amount of people that come to these races, and the atmosphere … I’ve never seen anything like it. We have nothing at home that could compare to this.”

Hollingsworth, 70, has been a fan of NASCAR for nearly four decades. He remembers rushing home from work on Thursday nights to watch a half-hour recap of the race week. Now he’s able to watch most races live, occasionally taping a race when the 15-hour time difference puts it squarely in the middle of the workday.

Hollingsworth sheepishly admits that he’s a Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson fan, adding, “I know I should like Marcos Ambrose, and I do, but not as much as those two. I’m a Chevy man.”