Daytona 500 2012: Jon Jones, UFC Light Heavyweight Champ, Named Honorary Race Official

NASCAR is once again turning to the UFC for help with the coveted 18-to-24-year-old male demographic.

Jon Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champ who will fight Rashad Evans at April's UFC 145, has been named an honorary race official for the 2012 Daytona 500.

It's not one of the race's highest honors – like grand marshal or honorary starter – but Jones will still be introduced at the pre-race drivers' meeting and ride in the pace car prior to the green flag.

Jones, who was named "Fighter of the Year" at the 2011 World MMA Awards, beat three former UFC champs in a single season last year.

He becomes the latest UFC fighter to visit a NASCAR race; middleweight champion Anderson Silva was an honorary pace car driver at Phoenix last fall, and bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz will do the same honors at Phoenix in two weeks.

Cruz's visit next month will mark the third time in four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events that a UFC fighter has been named an honorary race official.

Why the influx of MMA fighters? FOX is now broadcasting some UFC events, but it likely also has something to do with NASCAR's struggles to attract young male fans – which UFC has plenty of.

Both sports benefit when there's crossover between their large and distinctly different fan bases, and it's a smart marketing move to try and bring them together.

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