Dale Earnhardt Jr. will return to Daytona 500 in 2018… as Grand Marshal

Dale Earnhardt Jr. addresses the crowd after being presented the Chevrolet Lifetime Achievement Award Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Photo Credit: David Becker/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be at the 2018 Daytona 500, he just won’t be racing.  Instead Daytona International Speedway announced Wednesday that the retired diver will be doing something a little different.  Earnhardt, who retired from full time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of this season, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the 60th running of “The Great American Race” on Feb. 18, 2018.

Earnhardt will give the command that will kick off the 2018 season.  He won a total of 17 races at the Daytona 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).

He also won both the Coke Zero 400 and the Advance Auto Parts Clash twice and scored 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.

“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.”

Earnhardt will add his name to a star-studded alumnus of Daytona 500 Grand Marshals. A 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.