Edward Powell Jr., president and chief executive officer of United Service Organizations (USO), has been named grand marshal for the May 28 Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Coca-Cola officials also announced that West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III will serve as the honorary starter and will wave the green flag to send the 43 drivers on their 600-mile journey.

In his role as grand marshal, Powell will preside over pre-race ceremonies and give the command, "gentlemen, start your engines."

Powell has led the USO since January 2002, carrying out the mission of the international, non-profit organization to enhance the quality of life of U.S. armed forces and their families worldwide.

With over 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors, Powell oversees fundraising activities vital to the USO's role in carrying out both peacetime and wartime missions. Under his leadership, the USO has experienced substantial increases in individual and corporate donations to support the organization's various morale-boosting programs and services.

Manchin served in the West Virginia legislature and was secretary of state before being elected governor in 2004. During his time in the legislature, Manchin earned a reputation for standing up for West Virginians as he worked to improve schools, protect veterans and senior citizens and create jobs.

As governor, Manchin is spearheading the effort to improve the state's economic climate. He is also committed to making affordable and accessible health care available to all citizens and is working to provide a seamless education system, prescription drug assistance for seniors and a better support structure for veterans.

Tickets for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday evening, May 28, start at $49 and can be obtained online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by contacting the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.