By Cole Cusumano
Who would have the NFL would be dominating headlines in NASCAR to start the 2021 season? As if the NASCAR Xfinity Series didn’t provide enough excitement, there will be more than one battle to look out for at the Daytona International Speedway road course on February 20. NFL superstars Alvin Kamara and Antonio Williams are using their offseason to focus on the track and developing the careers of two promising young drivers.
Williams, a North Carolina native and lifelong NASCAR fan, has always expressed interests in being involved with the sport. The Buffalo Bills running back announced before the season opener at Daytona he would be investing in Joe Graf Jr. and SS-Green Light Racing.
In discussing his plans, the 23-year-old wanted to make it known he intends on being more than just an investor. He wants to be an integral part of the team’s operations and Graf’s growth process as a driver, with ambitions of being a team owner one day.
Four-time Pro Bowler and 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year Kamara recently took his newfound love for NASCAR to the next level by inking a sponsorship deal with Ryan Vargas and JD Motorsports for the road course event at the World Center of Racing. The No. 6 Chevrolet will be sponsored by The Big Squeezy, a juice bar chain co-owned by the New Orleans Saints running back.
“When this opportunity presented itself I knew I couldn’t let it slip by,” Kamara said in a press release for The Big Squeezy. “I did a bit of research on Ryan as an individual and JD Motorsports and was impressed with what I read. I’m excited to play a small role in what they already have going on. In the same breathe, I’m just as excited for the opportunity that this gives The Big Squeezy. With us gearing up for franchising our new express concept in 2021. I think this gives us an avenue to express our passion for serving healthy, fresh foods and juices throughout the country!”
For the first time since investing in their respective teams, the NFL players will be going head-to-head in Daytona Beach, in a deal proposed by Williams on Twitter — and it’s all for a great cause.
While congratulating Kamara on his new venture, Williams challenged him to donate to the My Face Organization, should Graf finish ahead or complete more laps than Vargas in the Super Start Batteries 188 at Daytona Presented by O’Reilly, and vice versa.
These NFL superstars will join an already star-studded lineup of Michael Jordan and Pitbull in high-profile figures investing in NASCAR. Not only is this an exciting time to be a fan of the sport, but maybe even more so as a team owner or driver.
These professional athletes are doing more than investing in NASCAR and its future success — they’re developing the careers of young, talented individuals, as well as aiding in providing resources for underfunded teams. The exposure for these variables is another huge element in itself. This is a movement that should be embraced by spectators and those within the industry, as it will attract more viewers from varying sports and cultures.
With the Next Gen car set to debut in 2022, one of biggest selling points is the cost-efficient business model designed to make equipment more accessible for potential new owners. There could be a high likelihood more prominent figures across sports and pop culture invest in NASCAR, and this in turn could present more opportunities for drivers and teams who may not have had that chance years ago.
Keep an eye on Vargas and Graf in the Super Start Batteries 188 at Daytona Presented by O’Reilly on February 20 at 5 p.m. ET to see if Williams or Kamara emerges victorious.