J.J. Watt to serve as grand marshal of Daytona 500

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The 2019 NASCAR season will get underway on Sunday with the help of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

Watt has been named as the grand marshal of “The Great American Race.” It’s the first time an NFL player has served in the role for the race, which comes with the command for drivers to start their engines.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as Grand Marshal for this year’s ‘Great American Race,’” Watt said in a statement. “The Daytona 500 is a truly iconic event with a rich history and I am very much looking forward to taking in the action up close and personal this year.”

The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s signature event even though it’s the first race of the 36-race calendar.

“We’re ecstatic to have a person who has shown to be not only an incredible athlete, but also somebody who has done so much for communities in need,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile in a statement. “J.J. is one of the best players currently in the NFL and now he’s going to be our Grand Marshal for ‘The Great American Race.’ It’s a spectacular pairing.”