The 60th Daytona 500 on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET on Fox) will be a star-studded event as NASCAR’s premier series gets its season officially underway.
While the recently retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. won’t be in the “Great American Race” for the first time since 1999, the 15-time most popular driver will have a hand in getting the race underway.
The NBC Sports analyst is the grand marshal for the race he won two times (2004, 2014). Earnhardt will give the command to start engines.
Once that is done, the 40-car field will pull off pit road.
Leading the field will be two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning. The former player for the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos will serve as the honorary pace car driver.
This isn’t the first time Manning has taken part in a NASCAR race. He was the honorary official for the 2016 spring Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
When the 200-lap race finally begins, it will be Charlize Theron standing on the starter’s stand. The actress, who appeared in last year’s Atomic Blonde and stars in the March 9 film Gringo, will wave the green flag as the honorary starter.
Chipper Jones, a former player for the Atlanta Braves and recently voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, will serve as an honorary race official.
Jones, a native of Pierson, Florida, will be introduced at the drivers’ meeting, participate in pre-race ceremonies, ride in one of the parade cars and take part in question-and-answer sessions in fan hospitality areas and the UNOH Fanzone.
Fans in attendance will also get to experience a flyover by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds F-16s. This is the eighth straight year the Thunderbirds have conducted the flyover.