WWE‘s John Cena is returning to the Daytona International Speedway, this time as an honorary Daytona 500 pace car driver, according to a NASCAR press release.
The WWE superstar, real name, John Felix Anthony Cena, is leading the 43-car field to the green flag at this year’s Daytona 500 race. The 15-time World Wrestling Entertainment heavyweight champion, who has several acting roles under his belt — most recently, Sisters and Trainwreck — makes his second Daytona appearance. In 2008, Cena, 38, was the honorary starter for the big race.
Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway, released a statement about the latest development.
“John Cena is one of the most iconic WWE Superstars in history, a great actor, and philanthropist. We welcome him back to the ‘World Center of Racing’ and our new motorsports stadium, this time, to pace the field for ‘The Great American Race.'”
WrestleMania32 takes place on April 3 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. WWE has a vested interest in giving Cena the all-clear for several reasons: memorabilia and ticket sales are down. Cena and a bevy of marquee wrestlers were sidelined in the latter part of last year due to injuries: Randy Orton, Cesaro, and Seth Rollins to name a few.
Cena underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff and is expected to miss eligibility for WrestleMania this season. However, he’s left several clues on Twitter about his rehabbing status and putting in work at the gym. Don’t count him out just yet.
Perhaps, the most-anticipated moment of the upcoming WWE extravaganza is a possible bout with Undertaker and John Cena. Both men are the faces of the franchise. Furthermore, win or lose, rumors are swirling that Undertaker is retiring and handing the reigns over to Cena. What a way to go out, right?
By the numbers: Cena has fought in over 1,000 matches; has wowed WWE fans since 2005; he’s been a world champion 15 times; he has won 24 Championships; Cena is a two-time “Wrestler of the Year.” By the way, he’s only 38. In short, the wrestling icon has a lot of miles left, but that darn shoulder has to do its part.
John Cena leads the Daytona 500 action on February 21 at 1 p.m. EDT. You can watch the race on the Fox Network.