Daytona 500

Ray Lewis Is Honorary Starter This Sunday at the Daytona 500

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03:  Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after the Ravens won 34-31 against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Art EddyContributor IIIFebruary 23, 2013

Now that his football career is behind him, former Baltimore Ravens star linebacker and two-time Super Bowl champion Ray Lewis has a bit of time on his hands.

According to USA Today, not only will Lewis be part of the race festivities at this Sunday's Daytona 500, but he will wave the green flag prior to the start of the race.

Brad Keselowski, who is the defending Sprint Cup champion, is excited to have Lewis as the honorary starter for the Daytona 500. Keselowski used to listen to Lewis' famous pregame speeches to help motivate him before a race.

During the 2012 season, Lewis left Keselowski an inspirational voice message before the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Brad spoke about Lewis via Fox:

What I like about Ray Lewis, and I know he's got a lot of people that don't like him, so I'll acknowledge that. But what I like about Ray Lewis is that he brings a level of passion that is really unparalleled in his sport, and he's successful because of it. It's kind of this mix of old school, mental prep that just fascinates me. ...

I want to bring that same level of passion, that same level of intensity to NASCAR that he's brought to his respective team in the NFL.

On the field, Lewis was a 13-time Pro Bowler, seven-time first-team All-Pro (three-time second team) and two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year. Because of his well-established off-field problems earlier in his career, combined with his over-the-top personality, people usually either love him or hate him.

Also participating in the Daytona 500 events are rappers T.I. and 50 Cent. Actor James Franco will be the grand marshal who yells out the famous "Start your engines!" line.

With such an eclectic group of celebrities in attendance, the atmosphere is sure to be even more electric than usual.

 

The race takes place at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. ET. It can be viewed on Fox.

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