Vince Vaughn, Kid Rock headline Daytona entertainment
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Here are some things to know about all the pre-race entertainment going on at Daytona International Speedway before NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500:
VINCE VAUGHN: The Daytona 500 went old school with its selection of Vince Vaughn as grand marshal. Before Vaughn gave the command for drivers to start their engines, the "Unfinished Business" star had a bit of a long-distance dedication:
"I'd like to start this Daytona 500 off with a love song," he said.
Vaughn refrained Sunday from belting out a tune - he made his name as a swinger not a singer - but he was still a big hit at Daytona International Speedway. Vaughn said he had not practiced giving the most famous command in racing.
"I like to let the feelings hit me," he said
Vaughn is the latest in a long list of Hollywood actors who have served as Daytona 500 grand marshal, including James Franco, Chris Evans, John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Nicolas Cage and Matthew McConaughey.
"Unfinished Business" is about a small business owner (Vaughn) and his two associates on a business trip that goes off the rails. The film opens March 6.
"Leave the toddlers at home," Vaughn said. "Unless that's your parenting style. That's your business."
KID ROCK: Kid Rock felt right at home at Daytona.
"It's the redneck Super Bowl," he said. "It lines up pretty well in my wheelhouse."
Rock headlined the Daytona 500 pre-race concert Sunday. He performed several hits as well as his new single "First Kiss" on pit road. Rock's next album drops Tuesday. He hopes fans enjoy his new material as much as they did hits like "Bawitdaba" and "Cowboy."
"I'm still awaiting the day when you show up and say you're going to play some new stuff and people kind of head to the bathroom to get a beer," he said. "I hope I know when that day comes so I can be courteous enough to play the old stuff for them as much as they want."
Rock loves NASCAR and counts Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson among his friends. He has attended races as both a fan and a performer.
"It seems like we have a little more tempers these days," Rock said. "Let's face it, it adds to the excitement, it adds to the drama. It's still to me one of the greatest sports. It's more un-politically correct than anything else."
AMY PURDY: Amy Purdy grew accustom to the speeds and high-banked turns at Daytona about as well as any non-driver at the famed track.
A Paralympics snowboarder and a finalist on "Dancing With the Stars," Purdy will serve as the official pace car driver for the Daytona 500.
She spent hours training Saturday to get ready to pace the field during caution laps.
"It compares a little bit to what I do," Purdy said. "I have raced in snowboarding and I race boarder-cross, and we have banked, slalom turns, so I understand line choice, which was pretty cool, being able to take the line high and drop low or take it low and go high.
"That actually became familiar pretty quickly. But driving a car with power, the car handles that track so well. I won't be able to go as fast as I would like to go. Setting the pace at 55, which actually makes the banks seems that much steeper because you're very aware you're kind of driving on a wall."
Purdy lost her legs at the age of 19 as a result of meningitis. Since then, the Las Vegas native has become a three-time World Cup para-snowboard winner, founded the nonprofit Adaptive Action Sports organization and recently appeared in a Toyota commercial during the Super Bowl that featured Purdy snowboarding and dancing to a voiceover of Muhammad Ali's "How Great I Am" speech.
U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER: Superstar Abby Wambach and teammates Kelley O'Hara and Christie Rampone are honorary starters, set to wave the green flag to start the race. Yes, they will be allowed to use their hands. The U.S. women's soccer players also got a tour of Daytona and a fast ride in the pace car.
"It's one of the coolest things ever," O'Hara said.
Added Wambach: "You can never explain or understand it until you experience it. It was fun, a lot of fun. Getting up high in the wall and the turns, everything in your body is like, 'We shouldn't still be on Earth. We should be down there, but because of all the gravity and forces at work, it's pretty incredible."
There was one moment of pause: when driver JJ Yeley showed the trio - and took one hand off the wheel at 140 mph to point to - where he wrecked in the Xfinity Series opener Saturday.
"Keep your eyes on the road," Wambach responded.
PHILLIP PHILLIPS: Former "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips felt few nerves before he sang the national anthem.
It was the rest of his body parts that gave him concern.
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Unlike most celebrities who attend, Phillips said he was raised a NASCAR fan and enjoyed the opportunity to perform. He even took a spin around the speedway in a pace car.
"It felt like my stomach was about to go outside my ribs," he said. "It was intense. I know that they urinate on themselves sometimes. So I'm glad I didn't have to urinate."
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.