Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Jeff Blashill will serve as the grand marshal for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 on August 28 at Michigan International Speedway.
Blashill will give the command of “Start your engines!” when the Pure Michigan 400 gets underway at 2 p.m. The Pure Michigan 400 will be broadcast live on NBCSports on August 28.
“It’s an honor to serve as grand marshal for the Pure Michigan 400,” Blashill said. “I was born and raised in Michigan and have had the opportunity to spend most of my coaching career here, so I know how passionate the fans are for all sports. I’m thrilled for the opportunity to meet the drivers, take part in the pre-race activities and soak in the atmosphere on race day.”
Blashill is entering his second season as head coach for the Red Wings after being named to the position on June 9, 2015 and leading the Red Wings to their 25th consecutive playoff berth in 2015-16. The 42-year-old is the 27th coach in franchise history, the first American to lead the Red Wings and just the third Michigan native to coach any major Detroit sports team, joining Steve Mariucci (Detroit Lions, 2003-05) and Dave DeBusschere (Detroit Pistons, 1964-67).
The head coach joins a select group of Detroit Red Wings who have held prominent roles for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway. Chris Osgood, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard have all helped to start the race in the past making this a Pure Michigan partnership.
Born in Detroit and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Blashill won the Louis A. R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding coach in 2013-14 and was named head coach for the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic. In his three seasons with Grand Rapids, he compiled a 134-71-12-11 regular-season record and a 29-21 mark in the postseason, winning seven of nine total playoff series. He is the only coach in Griffins history to qualify for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, leading the team to 92 points or better each year.
“We are excited to bring together these two iconic Michigan sporting traditions and have Coach Blashill on board as grand marshal of the Pure Michigan 400,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “A native Michigander who has lived and worked throughout the state, I have every confidence Coach Blashill will demonstrate the same passion and enthusiasm on race day as he does on game day in Hockeytown.”
Blashill is entering his sixth season with the Red Wings organization, spending one season as an assistant coach for the Red Wings (2011-12) before serving as head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate, from 2012-15. He also previously served as an assistant coach at Ferris State University (1998-02) and as a head coach at Western Michigan University (2010-11).