June 30, 2005 - Chicago Cubs legendary second baseman and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Ryne Sandberg will be Grand Marshall for the USG Sheetrock 400, NASCAR Nextel Cup series race, at Chicagoland Speedway on Sun., July 10, which begins at 2:35 p.m. local time.
Sandberg, who is scheduled to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. on July 31, will declare the most famous phrase in racing, "Gentlemen, start your engines!" He’ll then ride in the Grand Marshall car in front of the Pace Car, which leads the field of NASCAR drivers onto the track for the race.
"I am very excited about being a part of NASCAR weekend at Chicagoland Speedway," Sandberg said. "I can't wait to hear the roar of the crowd and engines. It's an honor to be Grand Marshall for such a huge event. I know the experience will be tremendous. Go drivers and go Cubs!! Holy Cow!!!"
The future Hall-of-Famer will be available for interviews in the Media Center on Sunday before the race.
"We were thrilled to find out that Ryne Sandberg is a NASCAR fan, and even more thrilled when he agreed to be Grand Marshall of the USG Sheetrock 400," said Matthew Alexander, vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. "He’s a Major League Baseball legend and a Chicago icon, and we know our fans will be just as excited as we are to see him participate in the biggest sporting event around."
Sandberg made his major league debut at the end of the 1981 season with the Philadelphia Phillies where he only played in 13 games. Before the 1982 season began Sandberg was dealt to the Chicago Cubs where he solidified himself as a fan favorite over a successful, 14-year career with the north side club. Sandberg’s career as the Cub’s second baseman is highlighted by 10 consecutive All-Star game appearances (1984-1993), one Most Valuable Player award (1984) and nine consecutive Gold Glove awards (1983-1991). Most notably, Sandberg was instrumental in leading the Cubs in 1984 to its first postseason appearance since 1945, and returning the club there five seasons later, as the Cubs again captured the National League Eastern Division title in 1989.