J.J. Watt said he was “honoured” to be named a grand marshal for the Daytona 500.
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has been named the grand marshal of the 2019 Daytona 500, NASCAR announced on Monday.
Watt is the first NFL player to serve as the grand marshal for the NASCAR Cup Series season-opening race, scheduled for Sunday.
“I am honoured 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.”
Watt will tell the drivers to start their engines for the 61st Daytona 500. His charity work, which includes the $41million he helped raise for Hurricane Harvey relief, was a large factor in why he was selected as the 2019 grand marshal.
“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,” Daytona International Speedway president Chip Wile said. “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.”
Watt will be front and center as Hendrick Motorsport team-mates William Byron and Alex Bowman, the reigning Daytona 500 pole winner, will start from the front row of this year’s race.