By: Spencer Neff
May 17, 2019 | 12:00 PM
Another star was added to the list of Indianapolis 500 pre-race festivities on Friday. Today, former NASCAR driver and current NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. was announced as the ceremonial pace car driver for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.
Next Sunday, Earnhardt Jr. will also take part in his first Indianapolis 500 as part of NBC’s broadcast team.
“I was already excited to attend my first Indianapolis 500 with NBC Sports, but driving the Pace Car just takes it to another level,” Earnhardt said. “The Corvette Grand Sport is an awesome car, and it’s an honor to be asked to lead the field to the green flag.
“I’m proud to be a part of such a prestigious event at a place that means so much to racing history. This will be an experience that I’ll cherish forever.”
This is the second straight year Earnhardt Jr. will handle pace car driving responsibilites for a race at IMS. In September, he served as the pace car driver for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard powered by Florida Georgia Line.
“Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most popular and respected drivers in American motorsports in recent decades, and he knows all about speed, passion and tradition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said.
“We knew he would enjoy his first Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge with the NBC Sports team, but driving the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car will create an even more indelible memory for a lifetime.”
Although this will be his first time at IMS for the 500, Earnhardt Jr. has run at the speedway during his NASCAR career. In 17 starts at the 2.5-mile venue, Earnhardt Jr. earned a best finidh of fourth (2012). His father, Dale Earnhardt also won the second NASCAR race held at IMS in 1995.
With this role, he also joins an extensive list of drivers with NASCAR experience to drive the pace car for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Among the drivers in this list are Jeff Gordon (2015), as well as Indy legends A.J. Foyt (2011), Bobby Unser (1989 and 1992) and Parnelli Jones (1994 and 1998).
Header image by Dana Garrett/INDYCAR.
Open-Wheels coverage of the 2019 month of May at Indianapolis is presented by Driven 2 Save Lives. Driven 2 Save Lives, an entity of the Indiana Donor Network, is a program that utilizes motorsports as a platform to encourage race fans to become organ donors. Currently, there are 114,000 individuals that are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Register as an organ, tissue, and eye donor at Driven2SaveLives.org/register and follow Driven2SaveLives on Facebook and Twitter.