With Whitney and Mariel’s Racing Wives friendship officially resurrected, the ladies wasted no time at the top of Episode 6 embarking on their next adventures. And while bridal shower dress shopping for Mariel was toward the top of the list, there was one huge event that preceded it: The Daytona 500.
And for Whitney, the race was a subject of both joy and horror.
Just a little bit after she and now-hubby Austin Dillon began dating in 2015, Austin had a terrible wreck at the annual race.
“Austin’s mom truly believes that that was the day that Austin was given a second chance,” Whitney said of the crash, which broke the racer’s car down to the bones. But Austin bounced back quickly, she noted, and confronted his fears so intensely that he wound up winning the same race’s more recent installment.
Amber, too, had a lot riding on Daytona. After meeting Julia Landauer, a champion and pioneer of the sport, for advice, Amber began to dig more deeply into herself to find the strength to continue to search for sponsors. As a woman driver, she noted she was still at a constant disadvantage.
“I think there’s a lot of stereotypes when it comes to female drivers,” Amber said. “A lot of that stereotype is that girls can’t drive, and people like Julia and myself, we want to prove that that’s not the case. We can win, and we can compete with these boys.”
And Amber was hopeful that Sam’s continued faith in her would lead to good things. Sam said that she had lined up meetings with sponsors in Daytona so that Amber might be able to secure a means to race at an upcoming Hickory event, but Sam said even she — Queen of execution — was struggling to get results.
“I honestly thought getting Amber a sponsor was gonna be easy, and it’s not,” she said. “But I’m not giving up. Amber needs to be out there in Daytona…you never know who’s around who might be a sponsor.”
Emboldened by encouraging stories from Kurt and Kyle, though, Sam persisted.
Still, Sam had more pressing matters on her mind. Like Whitney, Sam had previously watched her husband Kyle completely wreck his car at the Daytona 500. The return to the track proved to be emotional for both ladies.
But this time around, it was Ashley who’d have to face her greatest fear, as partway through the race, her husband, Kurt, completely wiped out and caused a fiery wreck that included more than 20 cars. Ashley had previously called Daytona one of the circuit’s most dangerous courses, and she suddenly feared that by identifying the track’s difficulties, she had unwittingly set the whole accident into motion.
“There’s cars wrecking left and right, like it’s crazy,” Ashley said as she watched in horror at the damage. “This is insane.”
“Kurt is always super amazing at avoiding wrecks and getting out of the craziest situations, but this year at Daytona, I’m pretty sure I jinxed him,” she added.
And while Daytona certainly wasn’t a victory for Kurt or Kyle (Kyle also later crashed, but was also OK), Amber managed to come through in a big way. After meeting with Jeff Taraboulos of KSDT, Amber officially secured a sponsorship, and Sam got feedback that Jeff was thrilled to stand behind one of the sport’s most promising new talents.
“This is incredible,” Amber said. “Sam and I have worked so, so hard for this and it’s finally happening. It’s finally real.”
And Sam shared in her excitement.
“A lot of people doubted us on this journey, but I’m ready to prove them all wrong,” she said.
The excitement would come to a screeching halt, though, once Mariel — who steered clear of the Daytona drama — reentered the picture. Though she and Whitney had a blast shopping for bridal gowns, the mood soured once the BFFs bumped into Ashley and Sam at lunch. Historically, Mariel hadn’t exactly gotten along with the Busch wives, and partway through some chitchat, it seemed like that trend would continue.
“This is so uncomfortable,” Mariel said. “I haven’t seen Ashley since we had the dinner at her house.”
And when Mariel got the impression that Ashley continued to toss little jabs her way, she decided enough was enough. So, when Sam and Ashley asked if they’d be invited to Mariel’s bridal shower, Mariel bristled and brushed them off.
“I barely even know these two,” Mariel said. “That’s like inviting my barista from Starbucks. Like, no.”
Naturally, Sam and Ashley — who insisted they’d been trying to win over Mariel for weeks — were frustrated, and said they’d reached their wits’ end making an effort. Is there any hope for this group to get along? Tune in to the next Racing Wives episode Friday at 10/9c!