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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be grand marshal for 2018 Daytona 500

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won't race in the 2018 Daytona 500, but he will play a role in getting the race started.

Earnhardt will serve as grand marshal for the race, giving the command for the 40 drivers to start engines for the season-opening event Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt retired from full-time racing following the 2017 season. His victories in the 2004 and 2014 Daytona 500s were among his 17 race wins (including non-points and Daytona 500-qualifying events) at the Florida track.

"I was humbled when asked to be the grand marshal of next season's Daytona 500," Earnhardt said in a news release. "The race has so much history and being a two-time winner of the event is something I am extremely proud of. ... Speedweeks is an exciting time for our sport, and this assures me an opportunity to witness the thrills of it all."

In addition to his two Daytona 500 wins, Earnhardt's victories at Daytona included the 2001 summer NASCAR Cup race -- the first Cup race at the track after his father's death in the 2001 Daytona 500 -- as well the 2010 Xfinity Series summer race in which he drove a No. 3 car with a paint scheme similar to the one used by his father.

"Talk about a perfect fit -- on the historic 60th running of the Daytona 500, we will have a man responsible for so much of our history serving as the grand marshal," DIS president Chip Wile said. "He has meant so much to our facility, to NASCAR and all race fans through the years."