Retired NASCAR great Gordon to drive Daytona 500 pace car

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon will drive the honorary pace car for Sunday's Daytona 500.

Gordon will lead the field to green behind the wheel of a 2017 Camaro ZL1.

Gordon, a three-time Daytona 500 champion, retired after the 2015 season and returned to drive in eight Cup races last season, subbing for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr.

''You go down the list of prestigious things I have done, this is right at the top of the list,'' Gordon said. ''Very, very cool. Yes, it is going to be unique because not only am I going to be doing the job I am supposed to do, pacing the field, there is a responsibility as well because the drivers rely on that pace car and that speed to get their pit road speed accurately.''

He will then resume his Fox broadcast duties with Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip.

Gordon will have a familiar car behind him - his old No. 24 Chevy now driven by pole winner Chase Elliott. Earnhardt will join his Hendrick Motorsports teammate on the front row.

''Driving for Hendrick Motorsports for 23 years as a driver, to be able to lead this field in a Chevrolet Camaro but also have two Chevrolets in my rearview mirror, that makes it even more special,'' Gordon said.

Gordon shared the overall win last month in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Other Daytona 500 pre-race celebrities include Owen Wilson (grand marshal), Jordin Sparks (national anthem) and Lady Antebellum (pre-race concert). NFL Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson is the honorary starter and Mario Andretti is the honorary race official.

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More AP auto racing coverage: http://racing.ap.org

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