Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa changed lanes on Sunday for an enthusiastic delivery of motorsport’s most famous words.
As Grand Marshal of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the former Alabama All-American ordered the pilots to start their engines before the Dixie Vodka 400.
Tagovailoa gave the order via video as NASCAR continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in a second season.
Former NFL linebacker Jonathan Vilma was the race’s honorary starter.
“It is a true honor to have Tua and Jonathan join us for this special weekend, and we are delighted to welcome them,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia said. “Tua helped bring the Dolphins back to their winning ways last year, and Jonathan has been a key member of several successful University of Miami teams, carrying on the school’s tradition of greatness. We know that many NFL players have recently taken an interest in NASCAR, and we are happy that both have the opportunity to see how exciting our sport can be.
The Dixie Vodka 400 is the third race on the Cup Series calendar after NASCAR began its 2021 season at Daytona International Speedway with the Daytona 500 on February 14 on the 2.5 mile oval and the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 February 21 February 21. the road route of the track.
Tagovailoa is preparing for his second season with the Dolphins. The fifth player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa became Miami’s starting quarterback in Game 7 of his rookie season.
In Alabama, Tagovailoa came off the bench as a rookie to lead the Crimson Tide from a 13-0 halftime deficit to a 26-23 overtime win over Georgia in the CFP National Championship game.
In Tagovailoa’s second season, the Tide fell to Clemson in the national title match. Tagovailoa was the consensus All-American QB and SEC Offensive Player of the Year and finished second in the Heisman Trophy vote in 2018.
After a hip injury in Game 10 ended his junior season, Tagovailoa headed to the NFL as Alabama’s all-time touchdown leader and NCAA record holder. FBS for career passing efficiency rating of 199.4 (for players with at least 400 completions). Tagovailoa completed 474 of 684 passes for 7,442 yards with 87 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and ran for 340 yards and nine touchdowns on 107 carries in Alabama.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on twitter @ AMarkG1.