Chipper Jones will serve as the grand marshal of NASCAR’s Aaron’s 499 this Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
The former Atlanta Braves legendary third baseman, a former World Series champion, National League MVP and eight-time All-Star, retired at the end of the 2012 season.
Jones is an avid NASCAR fan, having grown up just outside Daytona International Speedway in Pierson, Fla.
“I have been a huge NASCAR fan my entire life,” he said. “I have met many people within the world of NASCAR as well as many dedicated, true fans of the sport. I know there are a lot of those fans who love Talladega. I’m really looking forward to getting the Aaron’s 499 started.”
Jones joins other pre-race dignitaries A.J. McCarron, the Alabama quarterback and race’s pace car driver, and Robin Meade, who will sing the National Anthem.
There’s been no word yet on whether McCarron’s girlfriend – Katherine Webb – will also be making an appearance in Talladega. Webb was famously introduced to the world stage by commentator Brent Musberger, during Alabama’s drubbing of Notre Dame in the NCAA BCS Championship Game this year.
Simon Pagenaud has words with Gabby Chaves after Honda Indy GP of Alabama
Afterward – and after their tempers cooled down somewhat – both Pagenaud and Chaves gave their sides of the confrontation to NBCSN.
First, here’s Pagenaud’s take on things:
“We had a really good race going,” Pagenaud said. “I think we potentially could have been top 5. I was really frustrated with Gabby. He was two laps down and I was stuck behind him, which gave an opportunity to (Scott) Dixon as I was trying to do everything I could to make it happen.
“It’s a real shame because when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. You’ll have better days later, but you want to have everybody on your side when you have a good day. At the moment, he doesn’t have me on his side, let me tell you. It’s a real shame.”
When asked what exactly he said to Chaves, Pagenaud demurred.
“Driver’s stuff,” he said with a slight smile. “We’ve all been there. I’ve been in his position. My side, I played it smart. It is what it is.
“I can’t comment for him. You can ask him the question. I’m not going to make a deal about it, it’s just a shame it ruined my race. We’ll come back stronger. It’s Indy soon, so that’ll put a smile on my face.”
NBCSN then caught up with Chaves for his side of the story.
“It’s a tough situation, we had to restart (the rain-delayed race) a lap down,” Chaves said. “Our whole strategy depends on trying to get a yellow and holding our position. Some guys think that the track belongs only to them, they’re the only guys on-track.
“Everyone else who was faster at that point – we were only one lap down to the leader, so we’re still on our strategy and don’t know what’s going to happen – as soon as they got right up next to me on the lead lap, I let them go.
“Simon was the only one who couldn’t drive up to me. I understand his frustration, but he’s the one who has to save fuel to make his strategy work, that’s not our fault, right?”