Robert Laberge / Stringer
Two time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning will be behind the wheel of the pace car for the Daytona 500. In the 14-time pro bowler Manning, NASCAR got the kind of name recognition it wants for the biggest race of the season.
“We’re talking true star power with this announcement, as Peyton Manning is one of the legends of both college football and the NFL,” Daytona track president Chip Wile said in the release. “He also has the persona and popularity to match his achievements. He’ll be an awesome Honorary Pace Car Driver and a great addition to our lineup of high-profile guests for the 60th Daytona 500.”
Manning has been around NASCAR before, and has at least one super fan among NASCAR drivers. Kyle Busch, in an interview with Jeff Gluck, told the story of meeting Manning at Bristol Motor Speedway:
“Two years ago, they brought Peyton Manning to the Bristol Motor Speedway. Actually, Nationwide brought him, but NASCAR let some of us know and they knew I was a big Peyton fan. So I was like, ‘That’s cool, I’d certainly like to have my time to talk to him or meet him, shake his hand, that sort of stuff.’ I also maybe took like three or four of my favorite items of Broncos gear to the side and gave them to those guys and even spelled out on a piece of paper and wrote, ‘Sign here in silver’ and ‘Here’s the silver (pen) that actually works,’ and stuff like that. Yeah, I was that guy. I did that with Peyton Manning.”
Kyle Busch is a big Denver Broncos fan, where Manning won the second of his two Super Bowls after leaving the Indianapolis Colts in 2011, so it makes sense that he might be a little star struck with Manning. Sharing the track with one of his heroes as Manning leads the pack to the green flag will likely be its own thrill.