There are those who still liken NASCAR racing to professional wrestling.
Even three time series champion Tony Stewart has done it during one of his more infamous riffs a few years ago when things didn't go his way in the outcome of a race.
“I guess NASCAR thinks ’Hey, wrestling worked, and it was for the most part staged, so I guess it’s going to work in racing, too,”’ Stewart said in the wake of a 2007 race. “I can’t understand how long the fans are going to let NASCAR treat them like they’re stupid before the fans finally turn on NASCAR.
“I don’t know that they’ve run a fair race all year.”Stewart later apologized for the remarks and those who know him understood some of what was said was done so in a combination of anger and humor.
However the connection does still get made by some and that will most certainly be reinforced with the announcement that WWE "Superstar" John Cena will be the honorary starter for this year's Daytona 500.
Cena has been involved in the sport before and has proclaimed being a big fan. The speedway no doubt is looking to generate buzz around the announcement and tap into the huge pro wrestling following that follows Cena and his WWE counterparts.
But there will still be more than a few people who feel it's the perfect marriage between the two "sports," likely to generate some bad publicity along the way.
Here's the official release from the speedway:
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.
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.
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