UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje to drive honorary pace car at Phoenix

Arizona native, five-time World Series of Fighting Champion and current UFC lightweight Justin "The Highlight" Gaethje will lead the field to the green flag behind the wheel of the Official 2017 Toyota Camry Pace Car at the start of the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 12. As the honorary pace car driver, the 28-year old mixed martial artist will lead the warm up lap around the one-mile oval.

Gaethje owns an impressive 18-0 mixed martial arts record after turning professional in 2011 and joined the World Series of Fighting in 2013, where he became Lightweight Champion. He defended his championship title a total of five times before vacating to join the UFC in 2017.

He made his UFC debut a memorable one against Michael Johnson on July 7 at the "The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale," where he won a back-and-forth fight via total knock out to earn "Fight of the Night" and "Performance of the Night" honors, doubling up for $100,000 award. Less than a week later, UFC announced Gaethje will coach "The Ultimate Fighter 26" along with Eddie Alvarez, where the two will fight in the finale.

Before becoming an All-American wrestler at the University of Northern Colorado, Gaethje attended Safford High School where he was a four-time finalist and two-time Arizona state champion.

Gaethje is the latest UFC driver to hold the title of honorary pace car driver at Phoenix Raceway, however, the track has had a tradition of putting the fastest hands in mixed martial arts in front of the fastest drivers in the sport. Dating back to 2011, Phoenix Raceway has hosted some of the best fighters in the world including Anderson Silva (2011), Chuck Liddell (2014) and local fighter Dominick Cruz (2012, 2013 and 2016).

Gaethje's appearance was the result of a partnership between Phoenix Raceway and Niner Sports & Entertainment. In addition to his duties behind the wheel, Gaethje will make a promotional appearance at Phoenix Raceway prior to the race on Sunday, Nov. 12. For more information on timing and other celebrity appearances, please visit PhoenixRaceway.com.

Tickets to all events throughout the Can-Am 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Phoenix Raceway are available online at PhoenixRaceway.com, by phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223) or in person at the Phoenix Raceway ticket office.

--- PhoenixRaceway.com ---