Texans' Watt named Daytona 500 grand marshal

By Sports Desk February 11, 2019

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.

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    Cam Newton, shoulder: The Panthers quarterback was shut down at the end of last year because of a nagging shoulder injury and underwent surgery in the offseason. He's altered how he throws to keep his shoulder healthy and hasn't participated in minicamps as he continues rehab. Will Newton look like his old self by the end of training camp, when the regular season rolls around?

    Marcus Davenport, toe: The Saints defensive end's rookie season was derailed by a toe injury, and he later admitted he never fully recovered. Flash forward to 2019. Davenport is expected to complement Cam Jordan in the Saints' pass-rush scheme. He's had a full offseason for his toe to recover from a procedure and the heat is on for him to help turn the Saints defense, 14th overall in 2018, into something more formidable.

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    Carson Wentz, back: The Eagles quarterback said he was almost 100 per cent before June's minicamp after he went down late last season with a fracture in his back, but it marks the second season in a row that Wentz has missed the playoffs due to injury. The question remains if Wentz can remain healthy for an entire season. Without safety net Nick Foles as backup, Wentz will need to be the one to lead the Eagles to the playoffs.

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