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Junior Johnson to drive Daytona 500 pace car; Petty honorary starter

2/6/2008 - NASCAR

Junior Johnson, who won 50 NASCAR races including the 1960
Daytona 500, will drive the pace car for the start of the 50th
edition of "The Great American Race" on Feb. 17 at Daytona
International Speedway.

In addition, seven-time 500 winner Richard Petty, the winningest
driver in NASCAR history with 200 career victories, will be the
honorary starter.

The 76-year-old Johnson will drive a 2008 Corvette Z06 to get
the season-opening event under way.

Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1990
and named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998, Johnson
claimed his Daytona 500 win in only his second season in NASCAR
competition.

As an owner, Johnson's cars earned 139 victories and six
championships in NASCAR's top division.

Daytona also announced that all of its 168,000 grandstand seats
have been sold for the historic race, leaving only infield tickets
on sale. The crowd is expected to top 180,000.

It's the earliest sellout of the grandstand in modern history,
according to speedway president Robin Braig.