Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have a prominent role in next year’s Daytona 500 after all.
Daytona International Speedway announced Wednesday that the two-time winner of “The Great American Race” is set to serve as Grand Marshal for the 60th running of the Daytona 500, scheduled Feb. 18, 2018.
The recently retired Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. Come February, his duties will include giving the command to start engines to the field.
“I was humbled when asked to be the Grand Marshal of next season’s Daytona 500,” Earnhardt said in a release provided by the track. “The race has so much history and being a two-time winner of the event is something I am extremely proud of. The list of names who have Grand Marshaled the race is one I’m honored to add my name to. Speedweeks is an exciting time for our sport, and this assures me an opportunity to witness the thrills of it all.”
Said track president Chip Wile: “Talk about a perfect fit — on the historic 60th running of the Daytona 500, we will have a man responsible for so much of our history serving as the Grand Marshal. He has meant so much to our facility, to NASCAR and all race fans through the years. It’s an honor to have him back in this capacity for the 2018 DAYTONA 500.”
Earnhardt completed his final full season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series earlier this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He ends his full-time career with 17 career victories at Daytona International Speedway, including his wins in Can-Am Duel qualifying races and XFINITY competition at the 2.5-mile circuit.
Earnhardt joins a list of celebrities who have served as Grand Marshal for the season-opening event, including former President George W. Bush and last year’s honoree, Owen Wilson. Former Daytona 500 winners Junior Johnson and Richard Petty have also presided over the event as Grand Marshal.
Tickets for the 60th edition of the Daytona 500 are on sale now through the track’s website or 1-800-PITSHOP.