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NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 race is bringing out the stars, including Carolina Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. He will drive the pace car ahead of the green flag for the 600-mile crown jewel event.

McCaffrey has a well-documented friendship with No. 3 Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon and he has attended NASCAR events, such as the All-Star Race and the Daytona 500, in previous years. Now McCaffrey will be part of the fanfare for the Coke 600, a race steeped in a tradition of honoring military service members during the annual Memorial Day weekend event in Concord, N.C.

McCaffrey, who joined the Panthers in 2017, has an overlapping interest in supporting veterans, military members and their families. The Christian McCaffrey Foundation he launched in 2020 is aimed at benefiting service members.

In addition to the local star, members of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps will be involved in pre-race ceremonies. Talk-show host Jay Leno and “The Tonight Show” musical director Kevin Eubanks will be the co-grand marshals for the race next Sunday.

Charlotte Motor Speedway will host fans at full capacity after a fanless Coca-Cola 600 last year. The track announced on May 14 that it would allow full grandstands and not require fans to wear masks outdoors in line with the governor’s executive order. The speedway accommodates around 95,000 fans.