Jordan provides star power to race's start


No stranger to All-Star events, Michael Jordan will be front and center for NASCAR's Nextel Cup series festivities this weekend as the
grand marshal for the All-Star Challenge race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The NBA legend, who is now managing member of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats, has appeared in 14 NBA All-Star Games and gets the honor of telling the drivers to start their engines Saturday at NASCAR's All-Star event.

"It is an honor and privilege for me to serve as the grand marshal of the NASCAR Nextel All-Star race," Jordan said in a release. "Having the opportunity to take part in this event is a tremendous thrill."

Besides the Charlotte and All-Star connections, Jordan of course has deep North Carolina roots. He's a native of Wilmington, N.C., and led the University of North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. He also was a two-time college player of the year and first team All-America for the Tar Heels.

"The fans are going to feel the energy when we start this all-star race," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, Lowe's Motor Speedway president and general manager, said in a release. "Michael Jordan epitomizes elite status of a sport so it's fitting to have him send our elite drivers to the track."

After college, Jordan won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, won six NBA Finals MVP awards and five NBA MVP awards while setting the league career record with a 30.1 scoring average. He's third in all-time scoring with 32,292 career points.

Grammy Award-winning gospel and R&B singer BeBe Winans will sing the national anthem before the race.