Dale Jr. to be Guest Picker on ESPN's College Gameday from Bristol

Ron Lemasters | JR Motorsports | 9/8/2016

Bristol Dale Jr. News

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will join ESPN's College GameDay broadcast live this weekend from Bristol Motor Speedway, where he will be the celebrity guest picker for games this weekend.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 8, 2016) – Who better than Dale Earnhardt Jr. to pick the winner of the inaugural Battle at Bristol college football game at Bristol Motor Speedway?

Earnhardt Jr. will join ESPN's College GameDay broadcast live this weekend from the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., where he will be the celebrity guest picker for games this weekend. The last game he’ll pick will be the Battle at Bristol, where the 17th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies on a specially constructed playing surface in the middle of the famed venue.

Earnhardt Jr., recovering from a concussion sustained earlier this summer, will join GameDay host Rece Davis, former college coach Lee Corso, former players Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack and contributor Samantha Ponder on the set. It’s a place he’s very familiar with, having started 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races there. In those starts, Earnhardt Jr. has a victory in the fall of 2004, eight top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, and finished second in the spring race there earlier this season.

It’s also a place where he feels very comfortable.

"The Battle at Bristol is something we've been anticipating for a long time, and I'm fortunate to be invited by Goodyear to participate in ESPN's College GameDay broadcast,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I'm sure it will be a crazy college atmosphere, especially around the GameDay set, and I look forward to having this new experience at a familiar place."

Having a star of Earnhardt Jr.’s caliber on the show at such an iconic NASCAR venue is, as the show’s producer said, a “home run.”

“That's a home run," show producer Jim Gaiero said Wednesday, as quoted by Mark Berman of the Roanoke (Va.) Times. "The best college football game is never really near the NASCAR community, whether it's Charlotte or wherever the race is that week. They never seem to coincide. This is the perfect storm. And unfortunately with Junior's condition, he has the time off. ... He's a huge football fan, too, so he's fired up about this.”

The 8 p.m. ET game on ABC between border-state rivals should reset the record for attendance at a single college football game, too. BMS has a seating capacity of more than 150,000, far greater than the current record of 115,109 set in 2013 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., when the Wolverines played Notre Dame. 

Guest prognosticators are a tradition on the long-running and highly rated pre-game show. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the guest last week during opening weekend, when the show was broadcast from historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. prior to the showdown between No. 5 LSU and Wisconsin.

Earnhardt Jr. is the first NASCAR driver to appear as a guest picker on the long-running show, but some of the previous guests have ties to the sport. Roger Staubach, the 1963 Heisman Trophy winner out of Navy and Dallas Cowboy legend, was a co-owner of Hall of Fame Racing with former Cowboy quarterback Troy Aikman. Willie Robertson and his brother Jase, of the Duck Dynasty clan, have both appeared as guest pickers, prior to their company, Duck Commander, sponsoring NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway, and Will Ferrell was the star of the NASCAR-themed movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.