Drivers, start your engines! If you're a NASCAR fan, you've heard that command countless times. Typically, that responsibility of instructing the racers in the field to fire up their engines, and hyping up the fans in attendance, falls on a single individual, known as the grand marshal. But, on Sunday, February 19, for the 65th running of the Daytona 500, there will a group of nine NASCAR legends who will serve as the grand marshals for this year's"Great American Race."
Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano will collectively give the start-your-engines command. The inclusion of the five NASCAR Hall of Famers and four future Hall of Famers is no accident, as each has won both a Daytona 500 and a Cup Series title at some point in their careers.
"If a driver has won both a Daytona 500 and a NASCAR Cup Series championship, they have accomplished the two most difficult feats possible in our sport and deserve to be put on a pedestal," Frank Kelleher, Daytona International Speedway's President, said in an official statement. "As we start NASCAR's 75th anniversary season, it's important to honor these legends. There's no better time to give fans the chance to celebrate the past than before a sold-out crowd at Daytona International Speedway."
It's the #DAYTONA500. Legends were born. Stars were made. That's why this year we're having a few DAYTONA 500 champions get The Great American Race started!@NASCAR | @NASCARONFOX pic.twitter.com/wHv9ZjxTuc
— Daytona International Speedway (@DAYTONA) February 15, 2023
Richard Petty, of course, will be most decorated grand marshal of the group, as the 85-year-old North Carolina icon won seven Daytona 500s (1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, and 1982) and seven Cup championships (1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, and 1979) during his illustrious 35-year career. They call Petty "the King" for a reason. Bobby Allison won three Daytona 500s (1978, 1982, 1988) and the title in 1983, while Bill Elliott won two Daytona 500s (1985 and 1987) and the 1988 Cup Series championship.
Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon are repping the '90s and early 2000s, as they each have three Daytona 500 victories, with Jarrett winning the runnings in 1993, 1996, and 2000, and Gordon seeing the checkered flag in 1997, 1999, and 2005. Gordon's four titles came in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001, while Jarrett's sole championship was in 1999.
Moving onto the mid-2000s, Jimmie Johnson joins Petty, his co-owner at Legacy Motor Club, as the other member of the seven-time champions' club (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2016). Johnson also has two Daytona 500 Ws (2006 and 2013), while his mid-2000s cohort, Kevin Harvick, won the Daytona 500 in 2007 and the title in 2014.
Finally the youngest legends, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano, have two Daytona 500 wins and three championships between them. Busch is the 2004 champ and winner of the 2017 Daytona 500, while defending champion Joey Logano won his first title in 2017 and the Daytona 500 in 2015.
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