The Latest: 7-time champion Johnson has no retirement plan

Kevin Harvick_565899

Kevin Harvick, right, talks with reporters during media day for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) The Latest on Daytona 500 media day (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has no retirement date in sight.

Johnson has watched fellow 40-something drivers Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all leave the sport over the last three years. But he’s not ready to join the NASCAR star exodus quite yet.

”For me, I feel like, sure, I could stop; I’ve accomplished so much,” Johnson said at Daytona 500 media day. ”But what else am I going to do? I’m going to find something else to race. I am a racer at heart and I want to compete and I feel like I can accomplish more in the sport and win more races and compete for more championships and win more championships. I don’t feel that it’s time yet.

Johnson said his desire to compete is as ”intense as ever” as he continues his chase of a record eighth NASCAR Cup championship. Johnson, who won the 2016 crown, is coming off the worst season of his career. He won only three races – none after June – and finished 10th in the final points standings.

– Mark Long

1:15 p.m.

The Daytona 500 has gone dry.

Former NASCAR champions Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick, who usually sport beer brand sponsors logos on their hoods, have non-alcoholic sponsors for the Daytona 500.

The Daytona 500 will be the first once since 1982 without a beer-sponsored car in the race.

Miller Lite will still serve as primary sponsor for Team Penske and the No. 2 car driven by Keselowski at select races. Same with Busch and Harvick’s No. 4 Ford.

”It’s not like they’re not active,” Harvick said. ”You go everywhere in this town and Busch has pretty much taken over the town. You would never know Busch is not on the car when you drive around town and look around the racetrack.”

– Dan Gelston

1:10 p.m.

He Said It:

”Joey is one of those guys you could kick in the (groin) and he’d walk away smiling.”

– Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski on eternally optimistic teammate Joey Logano.

– Dan Gelston

1:05 p.m.

It’s a thorny issue for Brad Keselowski. Does it matter that he is the favorite to win the Daytona 500?

Keselowski can’t bet on himself.

”I’d be Pete Rose,” Keselowski said. ”I don’t think it should be illegal to bet for yourself. It should be illegal to put against yourself.”

But is their pressure as the favorite?

”No, because I don’t have any money on it,” Keselowski said, laughing.

– Dan Gelston

12:30 p.m.

Kevin Harvick has high expectations for budding star Chase Elliott.

The 2014 NASCAR Cup champion called Elliott the ”biggest tie to our grass-roots NASCAR fan.” Elliott is the 22-year-old son of Hall of Fame driver Bill Elliott. Both hail from Dawsonville, Georgia.

”I feel like he’s one of the most important ingredients in what NASCAR racing does going forward because of his family name,” Harvick said at Daytona 500 media day. ”He has the legacy that’s already been built in this sport by his dad. He’s come into this sport with a great name and already proven that he’s going to be competitive. He has those southeast, NASCAR ties to those core fans that none of the rest of us will ever have. He’s the guy.”

Elliott, entering his third full season at Hendrick Motorsports, in winless in 77 career Cup starts. He has 12 top-five finishes last year, including five runner-ups.

”When he wins the first time, you’re going to see things that you haven’t seen in a long time from fan reaction and just enthusiasm about this sport,” Harvick said. ”And when that happens, it’s going to be good for all of us.”

– Mark Long

11:45 a.m.

The green flag is about to drop on Daytona 500 media day.

There’s plenty to talk about heading into Sunday’s race. The field has undergone a dramatic youth movement, and new stars seem to be the sport’s focus. Alex Bowman is on the pole for the season-opening race and fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron is set to make his Cup series debut.

Kurt Busch will try to defend his Daytona 500 championship, and Martin Truex Jr. opens defense of his 2017 series title.

Darrell Wallace Jr. will make history as the first black driver since 1969 to start the Daytona 500.

Danica Patrick is still around, at least for one more race. She’ll make her final NASCAR start as part of the ”Danica Double” that has her ending her career back in open-wheel racing at the Indianapolis 500.

– Dan Gelston

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