Dale Earnhardt Jr. will play a role at Daytona International Speedway next season, but it’ll be as the grand marshal.
The newly retired driver will get to give the “drivers, start your engines” command ahead of the 60th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2018. A two-time winner (2004, 2014) of “The Great American Race,” Earnhardt will not be in the field for the first time in 18 years having handed over the No. 88 Chevrolet to Alex Bowman after 18 full seasons.
“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.”
Earnhardt earned 17 victories at Daytona from 1998-2017 between NASCAR’s NASCAR Cup and the Xfinity Series. In Cup, Earnhardt has a victory in every event held at Daytona: The Clash, the Can-Am Duel, the Daytona 500 and the July race. In the Xfinity Series, Earnhardt has won both the February and July races three times.
This year, Earnhardt started second in his final Daytona 500 and scored the pole for the July race.
“I was humbled when asked to be the grand marshal of next season’s Daytona 500,” said Earnhardt. “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.”