Daytona Beach, FL – History will be made during the next running of the Great American Race and it’ll be thanks in part to a two-time champion of that event.
Former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado as the pace vehicle when the 61st annual edition of the Daytona 500 takes place on February 17th.
It’s the first time a truck has been used to lead the drivers to the start of the race, according to Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile.
“So much of Dale’s legacy was formed on those high banks,” Wile added. “It will be an honor to have one of our greatest champions pace the Daytona 500.”
Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014, two highlights of a career which saw him win two NASCAR Xfinity Series titles (1998-1999). He was also named the most popular driver in the NASCAR Cup Series for 15 straight years (2003-2017).
“Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s popularity is as strong as ever,” Wile added. “We know our fans will love seeing him return to the DIS high banks, even if he will be driving a good bit slower than what he’s used to at our track.”
He retired as a full-time driver following the 2017 season and currently works for NBC Universal as an analyst for its NASCAR coverage.
Earnhardt Jr. joins a list of past Daytona 500 pace vehicle drivers which includes three-time Daytona 500 champion Jeff Gordon as well as actor Tom Cruise, legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and professional wrestling star John Cena.
DIS is selling a special Daytona 500 ticket package around Earnhardt Jr. for next year’s event.
Photo above courtesy of Action Sports Photography.