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Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he'll be nervous to meet Peyton Manning

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has met Peyton Manning before, but that doesn't mean he won't get nervous when he meets the recently retired Super Bowl champion quarterback Sunday.

Manning is scheduled to join Earnhardt during driver introductions before the Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Just like fans often get when they meet NASCAR's most popular driver, Earnhardt expects to get a little tongue-tied when around Manning as they ride around in the pickup truck waving to fans following driver introductions.

"We'll see how that goes," Earnhardt said Wednesday. "That will be pretty interesting to have him there in that process and ride around in the back of the truck. I'm sure I'll lock up and get stage fright and get all nervous around him -- that's normally what I do around celebrities."

Manning will be an honorary race official for the Food City 500 as the track tries to cross-promote the race as well as the Sept. 10 football game between Tennessee and Virginia Tech. Earnhardt and Manning both are spokesmen for Nationwide.

"We've been able to chat a few times on the phone over the last couple of years due to that [sponsor] relationship," Earnhardt said following the unveiling of a Nationwide paint scheme for the September race at Darlington.

"I think it's great that he's going to come out and check our sport out and see what it's all about. ... That's the power of his celebrity -- it's going to move the needle and people are pretty excited about it."

It will be the first time Earnhardt and Manning appear together.

"We hope it's a win-win for everybody involved and it can elevate the exposure for the sport," said Jim McCoy, Nationwide's director of sports marketing. "They are our two most important brand ambassadors that we have -- the NFL and NASCAR are our two largest sponsorships.

"To bring those two together for the first time is a real unique opportunity. ... It doesn't hurt it's Tennessee. [Manning] is a little bit loved there."