Two of the state’s biggest sports superstars will be grand marshal and honorary starter for the Father’s Day Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Starting goaltender for the 11-time Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard will remove his mask and serve as grand marshal for the Quicken Loans 400, giving the command to start engines. Dominic Raiola, the center and team captain for the NFL’s Detroit Lions, will be honorary starter, waving the green flag.
“It is great to have two professional athletes synonymous with Detroit to join us at MIS,” track President Roger Curtis said. “Their records and accomplishments speak for themselves as they each lead their respective teams and are true superstars. Howard and Raiola are each truly two of the greats in their leagues, and we are honored they could join us for the Quicken Loans 400.”
When it comes to his play between the pipes, Howard is regarded as one of the best goalies in the NHL. He has played in 192 regular season games for the Red Wings with 188 starts, posting a 110-54-19 record. He played in his first NHL All-Star Game earlier this year. Since becoming the Red Wings full-time goalie for the 2009-2010 season, Howard has won 35 or more contests in each season. He is the first goaltender in Red Wings history to win 35 or more games in his first three full seasons with the team.
He also led this year’s team to the NHL’s home-game win streak record, 23 games over four months.
“I’m a NASCAR fan, so I’m thrilled to share Father’s Day with my dad at the Quicken Loans 400 at MIS,” Howard said. Howard’s father, James Howard II, will join him for the command, a perfect complement for Father’s Day.
Raiola has played in 172 career, regular season NFL games with 156 starts during his NFL career. A model of consistency, he has missed just four games since entering into the starting lineup in 2002. The seven-year captain is considered the leader of the lockerroom and held in high regard by his peers and the media, including receiving the Detroit chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association’s prestigious Detroit Lions Good Guy or media-friendly award winner in 2009.
Last year he was one of the driving forces in leading the Lions to a 10-6 record and an appearance in the playoffs. The Detroit offense finished the year averaging 29.6 points per game. The former second-round pick for the Lions in 2001, Raiola was a three-year starter on the offensive line at Nebraska.
“Michigan is my home now, so to be a part of a NASCAR race at MIS is a real honor,” Raiola said. “When you think about the history of MIS and all the great drivers and races over the years, that’s pretty impressive. And with a Detroit Company, Quicken Loans, being the sponsor of the race, well, that just makes it all the better and that much more special to be a part of.”