Daytona: Jay Leno named pace car driver

Jay Leno to pace Daytona 500 in Trans Am DAYTONA BEACH, Fla -- Pontiac announced today that celebrity comedian, auto enthusiast and "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno will serve as the official pace car driver for the 2002 Daytona 500 on Feb....

Jay Leno to pace Daytona 500 in Trans Am

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla -- Pontiac announced today that celebrity comedian, auto enthusiast and "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno will serve as the official pace car driver for the 2002 Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.

Leno will drive the pace car version of the highly sought after 2002 Collector Edition Firebird Trans Am as part of Pontiac's ongoing celebration of the American muscle car icon during its last year of production.

"2002 is a special year for performance enthusiasts as Pontiac celebrates the Firebird and Trans Am with a special Collector Edition model," said Lynn C. Myers, Pontiac-GMC general manager.

"Having Jay Leno behind the wheel at this year's Daytona 500 adds yet another element of excitement to this car's rich heritage."

According to Myers, the appearance of a Trans Am at "The Great American race" is not unusual. In fact, this year's Daytona 500 will be the 15th that has used a Trans Am as its pace car and the 30th race in a row paced by a Pontiac.

A true racing and automotive enthusiast and avid car collector, Leno has participated as a pace driver or guest in many NASCAR events but has never driven at Daytona International Speedway. To help him prepare, Pontiac asked its own NASCAR Winston Cup Grand Prix driver Tony Stewart to take Leno through the curves.

"There's definitely a unique thrill that only American muscle cars can deliver and Firebird is one of those classic cars that's forever etched into American culture," said Leno. "Driving in this car at a track as legendary as Daytona with Tony Stewart is an experience that I'm very much looking forward to."

The Number 2 points scoring driver in the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, Stewart also drove a Trans Am in 2001 as part of the International Race of Champions (IROC) race series.

"It's really nice to see a Trans Am pace this race. I've raced Trans Am bodies in the IROC series for a long time and I really appreciate the significance it has as a great American muscle car," said Stewart. "And while it's sad to see them go after 2002, it's great to see Pontiac celebrate Firebird history."

-gm racing-

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jay Leno