Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of the most iconic sports figures in America, will be the featured speaker at this year's Times Free Press Best of Preps banquet.

The two-time Daytona 500 champion and current Sprint Cup Series points leader will help honor the area's top athletes and coaches at the May 29 event. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the 6:30 dinner.

"This will be my first time in Chattanooga, so I'm looking forward to it," Earnhardt said. "It's an honor to be invited to the Best of Preps banquet and recognize the area student-athletes and coaches for what they've accomplished. This event is about them. It's about what they've achieved in their respective sports, and it'll be rewarding for me to be on hand to congratulate them."

Earnhardt has been named NASCAR's most popular driver a record 11 consecutive years and routinely appears in the annual Harris Interactive poll of the nation's most popular athletes, joining the likes of Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.