California Speedway announces entertainment for weekend

California Speedway announced today its complete roster of race officials for both the Auto Club 500 and the Stater Bros. 300 races. San Diego Chargers Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman will round out the lineup of race officials, serving as an honorary starter for the 2008 Auto Club 500. Merriman joins a group of race officials that includes three-time Emmy-award winning actor and comedian Brad Garrett who will serve as the Grand Marshal and Interscope Geffen A&M Records recording artist Kina Grannis who will perform the National Anthem. Additionally, blues-rock legends ZZ Top will serve as Grand Marshals and Grammy-nominated country music artist Little Big Town will perform the National Anthem for Saturday’s Stater Bros. 300.

Merriman, 23, will wave the green flag, signaling to the 43 Sprint Cup drivers the start of the race. In his third year out of the University of Maryland, the former first-round draft pick has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons in the NFL. Garrett, the star of the FOX comedy “’Til Death" will give the “Gentlemen Start Your Engines" command while Grannis will perform the Star Spangled Banner.

ZZ Top will serve as Grand Marshals for the Stater Bros. 300 on Saturday, February 23 before performing in a special pre-race concert on Sunday. One of the most recognizable bands in American music thanks to their signature beards and dark sunglasses, Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard formed ZZ Top in 1969 and have maintained their original lineup for more than four decades. The trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Platinum recording artist Little Big Town will perform the National Anthem prior to the Stater Bros. 300. Billboard Magazine’s 2006 Independent Artist of the Year, Little Big Town’s commercial breakthrough came with the release of the band’s platinum-selling “The Road to Here." That album, which received a Grammy nomination for Best County Album, featured four singles that reached the top 20 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs. With the release of “The Road to Here", the band also earned award nominations from the Country Music Association Awards, the Academy of Country music Awards and CMT Music Awards.

The foursome of Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Roads Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook released their second album, “A Place to Land" last November.

Additional musical entertainment will include the duo of Smith and Pyle, featuring Shawnee Smith and Missy Pyle. Before embarking on musical careers, Smith had recurring role in all four of the “Saw" horror films and Pyle had roles in several prominent films including “Charlie and Chocolate Factory", “Anchorman" and “Dodgeball". Smith and Pyle will perform in the Opportunity, California FanZone on Sunday.

NASCAR returns to California Speedway from February 22-24 for the Auto Club 500 weekend. For more information about the race weekend at California Speedway, please visit To purchase tickets to the Auto Club 500 weekend at California Speedway, please call 800-944-RACE or log on to The 2008 Auto Club 500 weekend will mark the highly anticipated Southern California debut of the Car of Tomorrow and feature a special pre-race concert by blues-rock legends ZZ Top. Fans are encouraged to come early to races and take advantage of all the attractions in the Opportunity, California FanZone including the Miller Lite Rock ‘n Racing Show featuring a performance by George Thorogood and the Destroyers. Opportunity, California FanZone is a multi-million dollar facility enhancement including delicious food at Apex by Wolfgang Puck, the Speedway's official retail store called Impulse, amazing sounds of live bands at the entertainment stage, and shade and leisure areas.

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