Luke Bryan Daytona 500 pre-race performance was fun first
Photo: Image by Getty Images
Luke Bryan has been linked with NASCAR for years, with several appearances at races and through his friendships with some of the sport's best-loved drivers. But his appearance at Sunday's (Feb. 23) rain-delayed Daytona 500, where he performed at a pre-race concert, marked the country superstar's first time ever attending the iconic event.
"Growing up as a huge NASCAR fan, that was what we did, watch races on Sunday," Luke tells the Florida Times-Union. "My dad was a crazy Cale Yarborough fan. I've been a part of so many races through the years, but this is my first Daytona 500. I'm super excited about being here."
Excited but cautious, it turns out. When asked at a press conference before the race who he thought would win, Luke declined to answer, noting that he had several friends behind the wheel. Luke says he knows 10 to 15 of the drivers personally, and has appeared at charity functions with Dale Earnhardt Jr., (who won this year's race after the rain delay ended), Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski, who once ran a race with Luke's picture on the side of his car. Luke was also a passenger in the pace car at the Michigan International Speedway last year, where he received a bit of a jolt during one of the pace laps from pole-sitter Joey Logano, who teased him with a nudge on the pace car's back bumper.
"He gave me a couple love taps. … That was kind of nerve-racking," he recalls. "When you look in your rear-view mirror and Logano is staring you down, tearing your bumper off, it's pretty scary. It was fun."
In addition to Luke, other celebs in attendance included actor Chris Evans ("Captain America"), Olympic gold medalist in half-pipe snowboarding Kaitlyn Farrington, actor Gary Sinise ("CSI: NY") and more.