The following press release has been issued:
WWE SUPERSTAR JOHN CENA SERVES AS HONORARY STARTER FOR 54TH ANNUAL DAYTONA 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – WWE Superstar John Cena will wave the green flag as Honorary Starter of the 54th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 26 at historic Daytona International Speedway (FOX, 1 p.m. ET).
Cena was invited to participate in this year's big race by 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series runner-up Carl Edwards last night on WWE's Monday Night Raw®. Edwards got out of his official No. 99 Fastenal Ford and told Cena, "NASCAR asked me to come to Monday Night Raw and personally invite you to drop the green flag and officially start the Daytona 500 on February 26." An appreciative John Cena enthusiastically accepted with an emphatic "Yes!"
"John Cena is the greatest Superstar in WWE today," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. "We look forward to seeing him on the flag stand waving the green flag to start 'The Great American Race' and kick off the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season."
Cena, who made his WWE debut in 2002, is a ten-time World Champion. He can be seen each week on the hit cable series Monday Night Raw on USA Network. The avid NASCAR fan will headline WrestleMania against The Rock® at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Sunday, April 1, 2012.
Cena's success has led to starring roles in various Hollywood films. He recently starred in The Reunion from WWE Studios and alongside Patricia Clarkson and Danny Glover in the family drama Legendary. His first theatrical film was the 2006 action-thriller The Marine from Twentieth Century Fox. Always a fan favorite with kids, Cena played himself in Nickelodeon's popular teen comedies Fred: The Movie and Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred. A popular talk show guest, Cena has appeared on The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Talk and many more.
Cena, like many NASCAR drivers, has a long standing relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is on pace to grant his 300th wish, making him the first celebrity wish granter ever to reach that lofty goal. The Make-A-Wish Foundation recently dedicated a room to WWE at the foundation's headquarters in Phoenix, AZ, in honor of Cena's unwavering dedication to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Past Honorary Starters for the Daytona 500 include NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, actor Ashton Kutcher, comedian Whoopi Goldberg and singer Mariah Carey.