Monday, April 28, 2014

Pre-Race Dignitaries Named For Talladega Weekend

Two prominent individuals making a positive impact in the state of Alabama will serve in honorary capacities during Talladega Superspeedway’s Aaron’s Dream Weekend.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley will be the Grand Marshal for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and will give the most famous command in all of motorsports; “Drivers, Start Your Engines.” Auburn University Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn will serve as the race’s “Honorary Pace Car Driver,” leading the field of NASCAR’s best drivers during the pre-race pace laps.

“We are thrilled to have Governor Bentley and Coach Malzahn here with us for the Aaron’s 499,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “Both of these gentlemen have done so much for the state of Alabama. We will have a lot of excited fans, many from the state of Alabama, who can’t wait to see them perform their pre-race duties. I know our fans will welcome them to Talladega Superspeedway.”

Since he was elected in 2010 as the 53rd Governor of the State of Alabama, Governor Bentley, who will give the drivers’ command from the start/finish line, has been committed to creating jobs for the people of Alabama. In January of 2001, the unemployment rate was 9.3 % but had dropped to 6.3 % in July of 2013. A native of Shelby County, Governor Bentley has led legislative efforts to increase incentives for new businesses and industries, to protect consumers by controlling the rising costs of homeowner’s insurance, to reform the state’s pension system and to streamline government services and reduce spending. He and his wife of 48 years, Dianne, have four sons and seven granddaughters.

Malzahn will be driving Talladega Superspeedway’s official Ford Fusion pace car for the Aaron’s 499 around the 33-degree banked turns of the track’s 2.66-mile layout. He received national acclaim for overseeing one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history last year. Inheriting a team that didn’t win a game in the Southeastern Conference in 2012, Malzahn led the Tigers to the SEC title and a trip to the BCS Championship Game.

Known for his hurry-up, no-huddle offense, Malzahn was named “National Coach of the Year” last season. He was Auburn’s offensive coordinator from 2009-2011 when the Tigers won the National Title in 2010. Malzahn, a native of Fort Smith, AR, left Auburn to take the head coaching job at Arkansas State for the 2012 season, winning the Sun Belt Conference title, before coming back to Auburn to take the helm of the Tigers a year ago. He and his wife Kristi are the parents of two daughters – Kylie and Kenzie.

Both Governor Bentley and Coach Malzahn will be a part of pre-race festivities at the Driver Introductions Stage at the start/finish line. Fans can witness pre-race activities with a “Pit Pass Upgrade” for $75 (in addition to an admission ticket), which allows access in front of the stage to see Driver Introductions plus be a part of a Q&A with drivers, scheduled to begin at 8:30 am (Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse, Denny Hamlin, and David Ragan scheduled to appear).

Fans also can stroll pit road and watch the competitors walk the Red Carpet into the Drivers Meeting with the “Pit Pass Upgrade.” The pass goes into effect on Sunday from 8 am until the conclusion of driver introductions. Secure your tickets at or by calling 877-Go2-DEGA.  

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