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Today’s Daytona 500: Start time, lineup and more

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After a week of preliminary events at Daytona International Speedway, the Daytona 500 is finally here.

Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron will lead the field to green today. He’ll have teammate Alex Bowman beside him on the front row.

Here’s all the information for today’s season-opening race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt at 2:53 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.

PRERACE CEREMONIES: Driver introductions begin at 1:50 p.m. The invocation will be given by Ronnie Barton, retired pastor, First Baptist Church of South Daytona at 2:45 p.m. The National Anthem will be performed by the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus at 2:46 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (500 miles) around the 2.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60. Stage 2 ends on Lap 120.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard at MRN.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for cloudy skies with a high of 80 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Austin Dillon won last year’s Daytona 500, finishing ahead of Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin. Erik Jones won at Daytona last July, placing ahead of Martin Truex Jr. and AJ Allmendinger.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt named Daytona 500 Grand Marshal

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Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will serve as the grand marshal and give the command to start engines for Sunday’s Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway officials announced.

Watt becomes the first NFL player to give the command to start engines in The Great American Race’s 61-year history.

“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.”

A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Watts is also known for his charity work, most notably raising more than $41 million for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts for the city of Houston in 2017. He was awarded the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his hurricane relief efforts.

“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. … It’s a spectacular pairing.”

William Byron will start the 200-lap, 500-mile race on the pole, while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman will start alongside Byron on the front row. The rest of the 40-car starting lineup will be determined in Thursday night’s two Gander RV Duels, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

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