NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Pace Car to lead the field to the start of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line on Sunday, Sept. 9 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The announcement was made 25 days before the 25th running of the race, which starts at 2 p.m. ET on the historic 2.5-mile oval. The Brickyard is moving to a new date this year from late July and is serving as the finale of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season for the first time. The field for the NASCAR Playoffs will be set following the race at IMS.
“I am honored that Chevrolet asked me to drive the Camaro ZL1 Pace Car in one of the biggest races of the year,” Earnhardt said. “The fan in me was already looking forward to this event. It’s a big race. There is a lot at stake since it’s the final chance for the teams and drivers to make the Playoffs. So, I hope to do a good job leading the field to the green flag, but I can promise you I’ll soak in every minute and enjoy the Brickyard in a way I never have before.”
The two-time Daytona 500 winner retired from racing after the 2017 season. He now serves as a NASCAR television analyst for NBC Sports and also leads Dirty Mo Media, which includes his popular “Dale Jr. Download” podcast. Earnhardt is one of the most beloved drivers in American motorsports history, as fans named him NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for a record 15 consecutive years.
“Dale Jr. will enjoy a unique and exciting Race Day this year at the Brickyard,” IMS president Doug Boles said. “He’s leading the field to the green flag of one of the most prestigious races on the calendar, and then he’ll head right to the booth to offer his insightful analysis for NBC Sports. Everyone at IMS and all of our loyal fans can’t wait to welcome back one of the most admired drivers to ever turn a wheel at IMS, and his role as Pace Car driver adds even more excitement to our action-packed week of racing, music and family fun.”