Hook ‘em, NASCAR.

University of Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian, who led the Longhorns to the College Football Playoff semifinals this past season, has been named the honorary starter for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) outside of Austin.

Sarkisian will have the honor of waving the green flag from the frontstretch flag stand as the NCS field passes underneath for the start of the fourth annual EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (2:30 p.m. CT, TV: FOX, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Channel 90).

“It’s such an honor to wave the green flag and kick off the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix here in the great city of Austin!” said Sarkisian, who will be attending his first NASCAR race. “I can’t wait to get to the track for what is sure to be an exciting race for both the drivers and the fans. Like we say around here, ‘All Gas, No Brakes! Hook ‘em!’”

During his third season of returning the University of Texas football program back to national prominence, Sarkisian guided the third-ranked Longhorns to a 12-2 record, Big 12 championship and first-ever College Football Playoff (CFP) appearance. The Longhorns mounted a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback against second-ranked University of Washington before falling, 37-31, in the CFP semifinal.

Sarkisian, a former All-American quarterback at BYU, has a 25-14 record in three seasons at Texas and a 71-49 mark with seven bowl bids in 10 seasons overall as a head coach. His previous head coaching stops came at University of Southern Cal (2014-15) and Washington (2009-13).

Sarkisian’s coaching career also includes six years as an offensive coordinator in both the NFL and college, which includes being named the 2020 Broyles Award winner (best assistant coach in college football) while serving as the offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama. He was named the 31st Head Football Coach at The University of Texas on Jan. 2, 2021.

Sarkisian will be joined by actors Giancarlo Esposito and Skeet Ulrich, who are starring in the new AMC/AMC+ high-octane series “Parish” that debuts March 31, in the other prominent dignitary roles.

Esposito, the award-winning actor from AMC’s hit series “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” will serve as the Grand Marshal. He will provide the “Start Your Engines” command to the NCS field of drivers.

Ulrich, who co-starred in the CW hit series “Riverdale,” will help lead the field to the green flag on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile permanent road course as the Honorary Pace Car Driver.

Los Angeles Chargers placekicker Cameron Dickernicknamed “Dicker the Kicker,” will provide the invocation prior to the start of the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.

Dicker is coming off his second NFL season, where he posted the highest field-goal percentage in league history (94.5) as he connected on 31 of 33 field-goal attempts with a long of 55 yards. The previous season he was named to the 2022 NFL All-Rookie Team. The Austin native starred at The University of Texas as a placekicker and punter, including the 2021 season under Sarkisian when he was named first-team All-Big 12. He attends Austin Ridge Bible Church in nearby Bee Cave.

Country music star Cody Jinks, whose new album “Change The Game” will be released Friday, will highlight Saturday’s dignitaries by serving as the Grand Marshal for the Focused Health 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) race (4 p.m., TV: FS1, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM).

The Fort Worth, Texas native was named Music Row’s 2023 Independent Artist of the Year – the second occasion he earned this honor – and has eight songs certified Platinum or Gold. The most notable of the group is the double-platinum song “Loud and Heavy.”

Dignitary lineup for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR Cup Series race:

  • Grand Marshal: Award-winning actor Giancarlo Esposito from AMC’s hit series “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” and highly anticipated “Parish.”
  • Honorary Starter: University of Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian.
  • Honorary Pace Car Driver: Actor Skeet Ulrich, known for his roles in the CW television series “Riverdale,” movie “Scream” and upcoming AMC/AMC+ series “Parish.”
  • Honorary Race Officials: EchoPark Automotive President Jeff Dyke, Chief Operating Officer Tim Keen, Chief Marketing Officer Dino Bernacchi.
  • Official Welcome: Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith.
  • Driver Introductions: DJ Cassandra.
  • National Anthem: San Antonio police officer Rebecca Vermeulen.
  • Arrival of American Flag: Re/Max Skydive Team.
  • Presentation of Colors: Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Honor Guard.
  • Invocation: Los Angeles Chargers placekicker Cameron Dicker.

Dignitary lineup for the Focused Health 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race:

  • Grand Marshal: Country music star and Fort Worth, Texas native Cody Jinks.
  • Honorary Starter: Focused Health PR Manager and Navy veteran Rebecca Walters.
  • National Anthem: Christian recording artist Payton Keller.
  • Arrival of American Flag: Re/Max Skydive Team.
  • Color Guard: Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Honor Guard.
  • Invocation: Meg Weatherman, wife of NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Kyle Weatherman.
  • Victory Lane Trophy Presenters: Focused Health co-founders Shawn Hold and Larry Cassar.

Dignitary lineup for the XPEL 225 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race:

  • Grand Marshal: XPEL Senior Director of Sales Chris Hardy.
  • Honorary Starter: XPEL customer with Texas Tint Mitch Genova.
  • God Bless America: Christian recording artist Payton Keller.
  • Presentation of the Colors: Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services Honor Guard.
  • Invocation: NASCAR Cup Series driver Michael McDowell.
  • Victory Lane Trophy Presenter: XPEL customer and owner of Sun Stoppers Mike Burke.

— COTA —

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