February 12, 2009 at 12:00 PM EST

Apparently, we need to start taking Julianne Hough’s country singing career semi-seriously. The Dancing With the Stars pro and ACM Top New Female Vocalist nominee — who’s already toured with Brad Paisley and will hit the road with George freakin’ Strait this summer — will perform the National Anthem at Sunday’s Daytona 500. Pre-race festivities begin at 2 p.m. on Fox.

Another reason to tune in (besides the always entertaining commentary of my favorite NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip): Keith Urban is set to perform a pre-race concert. Urban also wrote, performed, and produced the theme song for a series of vignettes Fox will debut Sunday. The Adventures of Digger and Friends capitalizes on the popularity of the animated alter-ego to Fox’s Gopher Cam, which is embedded in the track to give fans a tire-level view. The five two-minute shorts follow Digger, a clever teenage NASCAR fan/gopher who will always outsmart the Wile E. Coyote-like schemes the “under-track security guard” Lumpy Wheels employs to catch him. Also making appearances: Digger’s girlfriend Annie, who is said to be “preoccupied by her many interests, which don’t include racing” (mildy offensive!); his good friend Marbles, an aspiring NASCAR mechanic; and his grandfather Gramps, a former racer who reportedly has a cantankerous side. 

Sunday also brings the premiere of a commercial starring Kevin Costner, who’s been named the spokesman for 2009’s charity-driven NASCAR Day (May 15). His band Kevin Costner & Modern West’s single “Backyard” is the theme song for this year’s NASCAR Day, so get used to hearing it during broadcasts. Costner also recently narrated the CMT NASCAR documentary The Ride of their Lives, which hit DVD Tuesday.

Anyone else planning on tuning in to the Daytona 500? (Go Mark Martin!)

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