Ken Griffey Jr. named honorary starter for 58th Daytona 500

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While a wrestling superstar is the honorary pace car driver for the Daytona 500, the Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway will be started by a Hall of Famer.

Ken Griffey Jr. has been announced as the honorary start for the 58th Daytona 500, which will be held on Feb. 21. Griffey will wave the green flag on the first Sprint Cup points race at Daytona following the completion of the $400 million “Daytona Rising” project.

Griffey, a former member of the Seattle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds, was voted into the baseball Hall of Fame in January. Griffey played in Major League Baseball for 22 seasons and was a 13-time All Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner and the 1997 American League MVP.

“We’re honored to welcome baseball great Ken Griffey Jr. as the Honorary Starter for the Daytona 500,” said track president Joie Chitwood III in a press release. “We’re looking forward to having such a legendary athlete wave the green flag on the first ‘Great American Race’ in the world’s first motorsports stadium.”

Griffey’s rookie season came in 1989. That year Darrell Waltrip earned his only Daytona 500 win.

Recent honorary starters for the Daytona 500 have included U.S. Women’s National soccer team members Abby Wambach, Kelley O’Hara and Christie Rampone, NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Richard Petty and actor Gary Sinise.