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Dale Jarrett honorary pace car driver for Darlington race

Dustin Long and Nate Ryan react to Ryan Blaney's comments regarding Bubba Wallace blocking him three times on the track, and debate over who is in the wrong.

Dale Jarrett, a three-time winner at Darlington Raceway, is returning to the track to lead more laps.

The speedway announced Tuesday that Jarrett, the 1999 NASCAR Cup Series champion and a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, will be the honorary pace car driver for the May 14 “Throwback Weekend” Cup Series race at Darlington.

The upcoming Darlington race weekend will mark the culmination of NASCAR’s celebration of its 75 greatest drivers, named as the sport celebrates its 75th anniversary. Many of the 75 honored drivers are expected to attend the race. Jarrett, named among NASCAR’s top 50 drivers in 1998, will be among those honored.

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“Dale Jarrett is more than just a legendary driver and broadcaster; he’s an incredible ambassador for NASCAR,” said Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp. “Not only does he provide a powerful connection to our past, he also promotes our present and serves as a shining example for our future. We’re thrilled he’ll lead the field to green for the Goodyear 400.”

Jarrett won races at Darlington, long considered one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks, in 1997, 1998 and 2001. He also won three poles at the track.

“I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Darlington Raceway,” said Jarrett, now an NBC Sports racing analyst. “The track is challenging, the fans are passionate and the racing is always fantastic. It was a major achievement to win races there, and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to drive the pace car on this historic day for our sport.”

Jarrett retired from driving after the 2008 season with 32 Cup wins.

Many cars in the Darlington race field will have throwback paint schemes designed to honor race vehicles from the past.

Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch, who waged a torrid battle for a win at Darlington 20 years ago, with Craven prevailing, will wave the green flag for the May 14 race.