LaDainian Tomlinson named honorary starter for Daytona 500

Former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson has been named the honorary starter for the 59th Daytona 500, the opening race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 26 (live on FOX).


The announcement was made on Wednesday’s edition of  “NASCAR Race Hub,” which is doing its shows this week from the FOX Sports TV compound at the Super Bowl in Houston.

Tomlinson even tossed the football around a little with seven-time NASCAR Premier Series champion Jimmie Johnson during Wednesday’s show.

Tomlinson, a former All-Pro running back with the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets, is one of 18 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2017 class. The 2017 class of inductees will be announced this Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl — which also will be televised live on FOX, with kickoff set for around 6 p.m. ET after a full day of pre-game coverage on the network.

Tomlinson retired from the NFL in 2012 and now is an analyst for the NFL Network and an ambassador for Disabled American Veterans. He will soon make his feature-film acting debut in the movie “God Bless The Broken Road.” Multi-platinum recording artist Jordin Sparks also stars in the film and will be singing the National Anthem at this year’s Daytona 500. “God Bless The Broken Road” will be appearing in theaters later this year.

“LaDainian Tomlinson will continue our tradition of popular, high-profile celebrities serving as our Daytona 500 honorary starter,” said track president Chip Wile. “His NFL career is legendary and he has always been the consummate professional, on and off the field. We are proud to add him to our illustrious list of honorary starters.”

Recent Daytona 500 honorary starters include NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, actor Gary Sinise and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ken Griffey Jr.