The president received cheers of support as he arrived on Air Force One, with videos showing the plane flying above the crowd while audiences chant “USA!” ahead of the race.
As grand marshal, Mr Trump was called upon to deliver the traditional starting command, instructing drivers to “start your engines” before the beginning of the race.
He spoke to the crowd ahead of the race, celebrating “the tens of thousands of patriots” in the audience and “the fast cars and the world-class motor sports” at the Florida event.
“My fellow race fans, there is no greater thrill than to join you at the World Centre of Racing for the 62nd Daytona 500,” he said, adding: “So exciting!"
Joined by first lady Melania Trump, Mr Trump took a lap around the race track in “The Beast”, the high-security vehicle the president travels in when he’s on the road, accompanied by a portion of his motorcade.
“NASCAR fans, never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family and country,” the president said on Sunday.
Also in attendance at the event on Sunday was Dale Earnhardt Jr, a well-known racing driver who served as honorary starter and waved the green flag on Sunday.
Mr Trump has long celebrated NASCAR as president, and was endorsed by the company’s former CEO, Brian France Jr, in 2016.
Mr Trump awarded Roger Penske, an auto racing legend and NASCAR team owner, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony at the White House last year.
He has also hosted Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr, both champions of the NASCAR racing series, at the White House.
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