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James Franco Explains His 'Drivers and Danica' Flub At Daytona 500

In his appearance on 'The Tonight Show' last night, James Franco tried to explain how he botched "the most famous words in motorsports" as Grand Marshal of the Daytona 500.

The 'Oz: the Great and Powerful' actor took heat last month after he yelled "Drivers and Danica, start your engines" instead of the traditional "Drivers, start your engines." Some took it as an insult aimed at the female driver Danica Patrick while others chalked it up to Franco not respecting NASCAR.

But Franco says it wasn't either.

"There was for the first time in history a female driver in the pole position, Danica Patrick," explained Franco. "Amazing. It was a great moment and I thought I would celebrate the moment."

"So I met her before and she was a little cold. Maybe she was thinking about the race or she just doesn't like actors or something. But that was fine. I was still going to celebrate the moment so I thought I would change the four words and I'd say -- I just can't say gentlemen -- I thought I'd say 'Gentlemen and Danica, start your engines' and it would highlight the moment."

"Well, I guess they changed it. I don't know that much about NASCAR and that's probably the first race I'd ever seen. I figure since she's been making her way in there they changed it to 'Drivers, start your engines'. I think that's what the politically correct thing to do now."

"So right before I went to announce it somebody said it's 'Drivers, start your engines' and I thought I'd still say 'and Danica' and I said 'Drivers and Danica, start your engines.'"

"Actually I'll admit, I don't really consider her a driver," Franco said. "No, I was trying to celebrate the moment and I, you know, I'm an idiot."

"You thought she was cold before?," laughed Jay Leno.

March 15, 2013 |

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