Seven-time NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson welcomes Creed to Daytona 500 with arms wide open

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Scott Stapp, left, and Mark Tremonti, right, members of the rock band Creed, take part in an interview during an NASCAR Daytona 500 practice auto race Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmie Johnson and his Legacy Motor Club race team welcomed Creed to NASCAR with arms wide open. So singer Scott Stapp and the rest of the multi-platinum rock band filled them — they handed Johnson an autographed guitar.

Johnson, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, joked he quickly needed lessons.

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Turns out, with Creed on board, they took Johnson higher in the No. 84 Toyota on the scoring pylon and now the band and the seven-time NASCAR champion are in the Daytona 500.

Johnson, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last month, raced his way into the Daytona 500 with a three-wide move through the final turn of Thursday night’s first qualifying race.

Legacy Motor Club reached an associate sponsorship deal with the band to give Creed a spot on the Toyota for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Creed decals face the “Creed Tour In-Car” cameras that are plastered inside the car.

“I guess we’re giving him some inspiration on the inside, as well,” Stapp said Thursday inside the Daytona International Speedway garage. “Get him pumped up.”

Johnson’s connections with Gibson guitars and music industry relationships, including entertainment giant Live Nation, were instrumental in landing rock band Guns N’ Roses last season on the hood of Legacy driver Erik Jones’ No. 43 Chevrolet. Johnson said the GNR diecast was NASCAR’s second best-seller last season.

Jones crashed and finished 28th.

“We’re going to change that,” Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti said.

Legacy ambassador Richard Petty, the only other living seven-time NASCAR champion, stuck “Petty 75” patches on Stapp, Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips.

Creed is part of the celebrity flavor at the Daytona 500 that this year includes honorary pace car driver Miss America 2024 Madison Marsh, honorary starter DJ Khaled and grand marshal Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Pitbull will perform before the race.

The band was one of the most successful rock acts of the 1990s, selling more than 40 million albums. Creed won the Grammy for best rock song for “With Arms Wide Open” in 2001.

Creed last toured together in 2012. The band launches its “Summer of ’99” tour on July 17 and recently announced additional dates through December.

“We’ll play the hits, we’ll play some deep cuts that we love,” Stapp said. “For us, too, some of our favorite tracks that maybe we didn’t get to play on the last run that we always wanted to play live.”

Tremonti said the band was told the age group buying the most tickets for the tour was 25 to 35.

“When our music came out back in the day, it was just all over the place,” Tremonti said. “Everybody back in the day came to see the concerts and they want to relive those moments. Everybody wants to go back to when times were simpler and they loved their rock on the radio.”

Creed’s stop at Daytona was its first at a NASCAR event since it played the 2010 All-Star race.

Creed’s anthemic hits “Higher” and “My Sacrifice” helped the band become an arena-rock staple by the time it first broke up in 2004. Much like Johnson at the superspeedway, Creed is only looking ahead.

“Man, it feels like 2000 all over again,” Stapp said. “It’s good to have these positive experiences with the guys and get geared up for the big year ahead.”


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