Dale Jr. to drive Pace Car for Indianapolis 500

Legendary race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo: IMS)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Popular racing legend and NBC Sports motorsports analyst Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will drive the pace car for this year's Indianapolis 500.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Friday that Earnhardt will be behind the wheel of the 2019 Corvette, leading the field of 33 drivers for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

Earnhardt will perform a dual role during this year's version of the "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," which starts at 12:30 p.m. May 26 and will be rebroadcast on WTHR on a delayed basis Sunday night. Earnhardt will be part of the NBC broadcast team for the network's first telecast of the 500.

“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.

This will be the second time Earnhardt has led the field to the green flag of a major race at IMS. He also drove the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Pace Car at the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race last September.

“I’m proud to be a part of such a prestigious event at a place that means so much to racing history," Earnhardt said. "This will be an experience that I’ll cherish forever.”

Earnhardt recorded five top-10 finishes in Cup Series races at the Brickyard during his full-time driving career. His father, Dale Earnhardt, won the second Brickyard 400 in 1995.

“The Corvette Grand Sport is an awesome car, and it’s an honor to be asked to lead the field to the green flag," said Earnhardt, who retired after the 2017 NASCAR Cup season and joined the NBC Sports in 2018. "And it's such an honor to unleash the field into Turn 1."

Earnhardt recorded 26 NASCAR wins, including two Daytona 500 victories.

“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.”

This year marks the 16th time a Corvette has served as the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car, starting in 1978. No other brand or vehicle has served as the 500 pace car more than Chevrolet (30 races) and the Corvette, respectively.

You can still purchase tickets for the Indy 500 here.