TALLADEGA, AL - With the stars of NASCAR set to hit the track at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the Alabama 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) and fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) playoff races, speedway officials have announced the lineup of pre-race dignitaries for the events. They include:
Alabama 500: Sunday, Oct. 15. 1 pm CDT Start
• Grand Marshal: As previously announced, Governor Kay Ivey (R), the 54th Governor of Alabama, will give the command "Drivers, Start Your Engines," before the start of the "Wildcard" second race in the Round of 12 of the MENCS playoffs.
• National Anthem: Tradition returns to NASCAR's Biggest and Baddest track for the seventh consecutive MENCS race, as the 313th United States Army Band will delight the crowd with its rendition of the National Anthem. The instrumental version of the Star-Spangled Banner is performed by a group of citizen-soldiers from neighboring Birmingham who train and perform as Army musicians.
• Johnny Ray's Big Rig Drive By: Another Talladega tradition since 2001 will be in full force with Johnny Ray's iconic diesel big-rig, zooming down the frontstretch during the National Anthem, flying a giant American flag.
• Military Flyover - First of its Kind: Talladega Superspeedway will host the first ever NASCAR Air Force Heritage Flight flyover at the conclusion of the National Anthem. It will feature a P-51 Mustang, recognized as one of the most dominant fighter planes in the World War II era, along with a modern-day F-16 Fighting Falcon, a compact, multi-role fighter jet. The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight (HF) program presents the evolution of USAF air power by flying today's state-of-the-art fighter aircraft in close formation with vintage fighter aircraft.
• Invocation: Buster Taylor, of Alabama Raceway Ministries, will give the invocation.
fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola: Saturday, Oct. 14. 12 Noon CDT Start
• Grand Marshal: Greg Pollock, Director of Store Operations for fred's Pharmacy, will give the command for the drivers to fire their engines prior to the NCWTS cutoff playoff race on Saturday afternoon. Pollock is responsible for process improvements, store communication and financial analytics for the store operations teams. He has been a fred's employee for seven years and resides in Bartlett, Tennessee.
• Honorary Starter: Dennis Burns, a merchant for fred's Pharmacy, will wave the green flag, signaling the start of the event. Burns is in his first year with the company and is responsible for the tobacco and beverage categories. He has over 35 years of retail experience and currently resides in Memphis, Tennessee.
• National Anthem: Birmingham resident and University of Alabama at Birmingham graduate, Tia Berry will dazzle the crowd with her performance of the Star-Spangled Banner.
• Invocation: Alabama Raceway Ministries' Eddie Varnadore will provide the invocation.
To purchase your tickets to Talladega's double-header playoff race weekend, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call the track's on-site ticket office at 855-518-RACE (7223). A variety of upgrades are still available, including the Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrades to experience a variety of pre-race activities. Talladega's fall race weekend kicks off Friday with practice sessions for both races. Sunday's Alabama 500 will mark the final start for six-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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