DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney visited the Daytona 500 auto race on Sunday to greet NASCAR fans but couldn't escape the presence of his rival Rick Santorum.
Just as Romney strolled out onto the track for photo opportunities and handshakes at the traditional season-opener, the No. 26 car, emblazoned with "Santorum 2012" moved slowly past him into the pit lane.
Former Pennsylvania senator Santorum is sponsoring the Front Row Motorsports Ford driven by Tony Raines in Sunday's race.
Romney, taking a break from the high octane primary contest in Michigan, was asked about Santorum's sponsorship move and the lack of a Romney car when he was interviewed on Sirius XM's NASCAR radio station.
"Well, I came to watch the race and not to advertise so I'm looking forward to seeing some of the race and to see a lot of the spectators here and shake a lot of hands. This is kind of a fun thing for me to do," he said.
Romney, who was given a warm reception by many fans, made a brief address to spectators before the scheduled start of the race. But heavy rain hampered his visit with NASCAR personalities in the pit-lane and he left without seeing any action to return to a campaign event in Michigan, which holds its primary on Tuesday.