Look out, Dale Earnhardt Jr. You’re going to have a little bit of competition on Sunday. But at least it’s a really good buddy!
Retired NFL champion Peyton Manning is climbing into a racecar for a very special reason on Feb. 18.
It’s the annual running of the Daytona 500, the kickoff to the upcoming NASCAR season, and Peyton will be steering the official pace car that leads the practice lap around the track before the big event.
He’s actually going to be driving a Toyota Camry XSE before the green flag, Daytona International Speedway announced on Tuesday.
And, of course, the Speedway is pulling out even more stops for the main event. Waving that green flag will be Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron.
So exciting—and yes, Peyton is totally thrilled.
“Serving as the honorary pace car driver will be a truly unique and exciting experience,” he said. “I want to thank NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway and Nationwide for making this possible. I’m really looking forward to race day.”
So are we, especially now!
His buddy, NASCAR legend Dale Jr., will be the Grand Marshal of the event. Maybe he can give Peyton a few pointers … although we hope he won’t be driving too fast!
Their friendship is really adorable. They apparently first met through Kenny Chesney, their mutual friend. Junior told the Johnson City Press, “We ran into each other at a concert and got to drink a couple beers together. That was pretty cool.”
Peyton has also been Junior’s guest at races, and has even joined him for a driver’s meeting in the past.
Awww, just look at these young bucks in these throwback shots from 2016 …
Now, the two have even more in common: retirement … and the freedom to take in all the Kenny concerts they can handle.
Rascal Flatts will also take part in race day, performing a concert before the big showdown. Look for both Junior and Peyton when the Daytona 500 airs Sunday, Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX.