The NASCAR season was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns and isn't expected to start again until early May. In the meantime, the racing organization is relying on the digital Pro Invitational Series and is still incorporating a professional commentary team and a grand marshal. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman filled this role on Sunday for the O'Reilly 125, and he did his best Matthew McConaughey impression.
Aikman posted a video on the NASCAR on FOX Twitter account Sunday, explaining that he was the one tasked with giving the command to "start your engines." Aikman revealed that he had previously viewed the role of a grand marshal as something fairly straightforward until he watched the star of Fool's Gold give the command prior to 2005's Daytona 500. With McConaughey serving as his inspiration, Aikman attempted to fire up the drivers.
"Alright, alright. Gentlemen, start your engines," Aikman said to the camera. The broadcast feed then transitioned to the drivers circling the digital Texas Motor Speedway ahead of the green flag being waved.
There were many fans that showed their support for Aikman on Twitter, commenting that he did a great job despite giving the command from self-quarantine. However, there were others that wanted to voice some concern. They noticed that one of Aikman's eyes was noticeably red, which they believe to be a symptom of the coronavirus.
Aikman serving as the grand marshal is only one example of the lengths NASCAR is going to in order to provide a more authentic racing experience during the postponement. The racing organization also brought in Jeff Gordon and Mike Joy to serve as the commentary duo during the FOX broadcast.
Additionally, NASCAR even had singer Cole Swindell provide some pre-race music to properly fire up the viewers, as well as the drivers. This performance took place away from a stage or a crowd of fans, but the music was still well-received. It also set the stage for Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead to perform the national anthem.
The racing void has not completely been filled by the "iRacing" series, but the fans are still tuning in to watch the action. The Dixie Vodka 150 drew a 0.53 television rating and averaged 903,000 viewers on FS1, leading to an expanded broadcast that includes FOX.
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