February 12, 2019 / 12:04 AM / 5 months ago

J.J. Watt named grand marshal of Daytona 500

FILE PHOTO: Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Houston Texans player JJ Watt congratulates Walter Payton NFL Man Of The Year winner Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles before Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Watt will be instructing drivers to start their engines on Sunday after being named grand marshal of the famous Daytona 500 on Monday.

The Houston Texans star defensive end will be the first NFL player to hold those duties at the race, which will be run for the 61st time at Daytona International Speedway in six days.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as Grand Marshal for this year’s ‘Great American Race,’” Watt said in NASCAR’s news release. “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 is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He also won the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award following the 2017 season, primarily for his charity work after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas.

“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 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.”

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