Earnhardt made the announcement on his podcast Monday, one day after the NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Daytona International Speedway confirmed the news. Earnhardt, a two-time Daytona 500 champion (2004, 2014) who retired at the end of the 2017 season, served as grand marshal in 2018 and drove the pace truck in February.
Track president Chip Wile joked, “The only thing left for Dale now is for him to sing the national anthem prior to the Daytona 500.” He said any role played by the highly popular Earnhardt on NASCAR’s opening weekend is significant.
Earnhardt says he has no plans to sing at Daytona “no matter how hard they ask.” He adds that waving the green flag as the honorary starter “is a special moment in not only NASCAR but all of sports.”
Recent Daytona 500 honorary starters include retired NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson, retired baseball star Ken Griffey Jr. and actors Charlize Theron and Gary Sinise.