Dale Earnhardt Jr. is indeed returning to the DAYTONA 500, although in a different role than the previous 20 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt, who has retired from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the 60th running of “The Great American Race” on Feb. 18, 2018.
Earnhardt, who will deliver the famous “Drivers, start your engines” command, won a total of 17 races at the “World Center of Racing” during his career from 1998-2017. The only drivers to equal or surpass in DIS victories are his father Dale Earnhardt (34), Tony Stewart (19) and Bobby Allison (17).
In addition to his DAYTONA 500 victories in 2004 and 2014, in other Monster Energy Series competition at DIS Earnhardt won both the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola and the Advance Auto Parts Clash twice and captured Can-Am Duel victories five times. He also won the PowerShares QQQ 300 and the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 – both NASCAR XFINITY Series events – three times apiece.
Earnhardt capped his career at Daytona in style this season, qualifying second for the DAYTONA 500 and winning the pole for the Coke Zero 400.
Earnhardt joins a star-studded alumni of DAYTONA 500 Grand Marshals. That list includes luminaries from the entertainment field such as actors Matthew McConaughey and Owen Wilson; politicians such as President George W. Bush; and, of course, past DAYTONA 500 champions Junior Johnson and Richard Petty.
“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,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. “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.”
“I was humbled when asked to be the Grand Marshal of next season’s DAYTONA 500,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “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.”