DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 30, 2008) – Seven-time Daytona 500 Champion Richard Petty, who’s father Lee won the inaugural DAYTONA 500 in 1959, will serve as Honorary Starter for the historic 50th running of the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17.
Petty will drop the green flag at Daytona International Speedway to get the historic event underway at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on FOX.
“We are so honored and proud to have Richard Petty drop the green flag to get the most anticipated event in racing history underway,” said Speedway President Robin Braig. “Richard and the Daytona 500 are synonymous with NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race and we’re thrilled to have him get the 50th spectacle underway.”
Over the course of 32 years driving on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, along with his record seven DAYTONA 500 wins, “The King” has a record 200 victories; won seven Sprint Cup championships; recorded 27 wins in 1967; was named the circuit’s “Most Popular Driver” nine times and was the Series Rookie of the Year in 1959.
Petty continues the tradition of high-profile celebrities, politicians and athletes that have served as Honorary Starter for the Daytona 500. Former NASCAR driver Phil Parsons was the Honorary Starter in 2007. Olympic snowboard medalists Hannah Teter and Gretchen Bleiler, who led the United States to a 1-2 finish in the women's halfpipe, served as Co-Honorary Starters in 2006. Actor Ashton Kutcher waved the green flag for the 2005 Daytona 500 and comedian Whoopi Goldberg started the 2004 edition of "The Great American Race." Singer Mariah Carey sang the National Anthem and served as the Honorary Starter for the 2003 Daytona 500.
Tickets for the DIRECTV Speedweeks 2008 events, including the 50th running of the Daytona 500, are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or by visiting www.racetickets.com