Two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been named the Honorary Starter for the 62nd running of "The Great American Race" on Sunday, Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway. The announcement was made on Earnhardt’s popular Dirty Mo Media podcast, The Dale Jr. Download.
Earnhardt, DAYTONA 500 champion in 2004 and 2014, has been a regular DAYTONA 500 attendee since he completed his final full-time season as a NASCAR Cup Series driver in 2017. He was the Official Pace Truck Driver for this year’s DAYTONA 500 and in 2018 served as the race’s Grand Marshal.
Daytona International Speedway has assembled a special DAYTONA 500 ticket package around Earnhardt’s Honorary Starter role. The package, costing $250, covers a ticket to the DAYTONA 500, UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race Access, an exclusive question-and-answer session with Earnhardt and a commemorative item signed by Earnhardt. To purchase, fans can visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.
Earnhardt, now a commentator for NBC Sports, enjoyed a 19-year NASCAR Cup Series career during which he was named the NASCAR Cup Series’ Most Popular Driver 15 times consecutively from 2003-17. He won a total of 17 events at Daytona International Speedway, tied for the third-best all-time total.
"The only thing left for Dale now is for him to sing the National Anthem prior to the DAYTONA 500," said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. "That probably won’t happen. But what will happen, come February, will be another outpouring of support from race fans about Dale’s involvement. There’s no way to exaggerate how much he means to the fans and to NASCAR. Any role he plays on a DAYTONA 500 weekend is significant."
"One thing is certain, I’m not doing any singing at Daytona no matter how hard they ask," Earnhardt joked. "But I am going to enjoy waving the green flag in February. The start of the DAYTONA 500 is a special moment in not only NASCAR but all of sports. I am truly honored to be part of that."
Recent DAYTONA 500 Honorary Starters include Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee LaDainian Tomlinson; Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ken Griffey Jr.; and actors Charlize Theron and Gary Sinise.
— Daytona International Speedway —