Chipper Jones named grand marshal for NASCAR’s Talladega race

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Chipper Jones will serve as the grand marshal of NASCAR’s Aaron’s 499 this Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

The former Atlanta Braves legendary third baseman, a former World Series champion, National League MVP and eight-time All-Star, retired at the end of the 2012 season.

Jones is an avid NASCAR fan, having grown up just outside Daytona International Speedway in Pierson, Fla.

“I have been a huge NASCAR fan my entire life,” he said. “I have met many people within the world of NASCAR as well as many dedicated, true fans of the sport. I know there are a lot of those fans who love Talladega. I’m really looking forward to getting the Aaron’s 499 started.”

Jones joins other pre-race dignitaries A.J. McCarron, the Alabama quarterback and race’s pace car driver, and Robin Meade, who will sing the National Anthem.

There’s been no word yet on whether McCarron’s girlfriend – Katherine Webb – will also be making an appearance in Talladega. Webb was famously introduced to the world stage by commentator Brent Musberger, during Alabama’s drubbing of Notre Dame in the NCAA BCS Championship Game this year.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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