The Houston Texans star will be the first NFL player to take on the NASCAR role
Start your engines, JJ Watt fans.
The 29-year-old Houston Texans defensive end will serve as the Daytona 500 grand marshal for the 61st annual race this weekend, according to NASCAR.com.
Watt is the first NFL player to kick off the race at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida, according to NASCAR.com.
In a statement to NASCAR, Watt said he was “honored to have this opportunity.”
“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,” he continued.
Sunday’s race is the season-opener for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Other stars involved include Jake Owen, who will perform, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will be the honorary pace truck driver for the race.
Watt recently made headlines for looking out for his fans, promising a young Texas boy one of his jerseys after seeing the student’s makeshift version.
In a Twitter photo, a 4th grade teacher at Moore Elementary in Houston named Malinda Ross posed alongside two students. Ross wore Watt’s jersey, as did another young student in the picture. A boy posing with them had on a blue t-shirt with the number 99 cut out of white paper and safety-pinned on.
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Watt instructed Ross to “DM me an address,” assuring, “I’ll make sure we get him a real jersey!”
The athlete is known for giving back to his community. In the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Watt’s the Justin J. Watt Foundation raised and distributed $41.6 million to those affected between 2017 and August 2018, according to the NFL.