She may not be able to wave the green flag or give the command "Gentleman, Start your Engines," but a 13-year-old Labrador retriever named Sunshine will serve as the honorary grand marshal for the Dollar General 300 on Oct. 15 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sunshine earned the distinction by winning the ALPO Honorary Grand Marshal contest, conducted by Performance Racing Network. To win the contest, which included a trip for two to the Dollar General 300, Sunshine's owner, Christy Bradburn, of Massanutten, Va., submitted a short essay written from Sunshine's point of view describing her favorite "real dog" behavior and why it's time to let dogs be dogs again.

"Sunshine is like any real dog in that she has a common sense approach to life and enjoys simple pleasures like rolling in mud, swimming in the pond and barking at the mailman," said Bradburn. In her winning essay Bradburn wrote about Sunshine's "reckless abandon" and spirit of adventure.
Bradburn learned about the ALPO Honorary Grand Marshal contest when her husband Brian Koerner heard about it on PRN. She entered for two reasons.

"I'll take advantage of any opportunity to talk about my dog," Bradburn said. "And I've always wanted to go to a NASCAR race. I've never been to one. It's been on my bucket list."

Bradburn and her husband admittedly spoil Sunshine, but life didn't start out so easy for the contest-winning pooch.

"I got her from a pound when she was a year old," said Bradburn. "She was brought in as a cruelty case. I was so surprised though, because she was never timid or fearful. She was a happy-go-lucky hyper dog from the get go."

When it comes to NASCAR, Bradburn says that she considers herself a casual fan. She doesn't have a favorite driver, while her husband admits that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Tony Stewart is his favorite. Regardless of who they root for, they are both very excited about their trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway, which will include garage passes, suite access, and a ride in a pace car.

"I'm most looking forward to the pace car ride," Bradburn said. "That's something I never thought I'd be able to do and it's so cool that Sunshine gets to participate in it too."

Though Sunshine and her owners are not sure what to expect during the Dollar General 300, the dog does have an advantage over the humans when it comes to fitting in with the sometimes rowdy race crowd: she was named after a beer.

"I'm embarrassed to admit this but she's named after Sunshine Wheat. It's a beer that my husband and I like," said Bradburn.

Representatives from the ALPO brand will also be in attendance with Sunshine and her owners at the Dollar General 300. This is the first year for the ALPO Honorary Grand Marshal Contest, which celebrates the ALPO "real dog" movement.

Tickets for all October races at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). The Bank of America Fan 4 Pack includes tickets, hot dogs and Coca-Cola drinks starting at just $39.75 per person or fans can get four nights of great racing with the Bank of America 500 Week Super Ticket for just $99.

For daily updates on October race activities, connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CLTMotorSpdwy or become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.