Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson to drive NASCAR pace car at Kansas

Leave a comment

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is from Kansas. He went to Kansas State University, and has since blossomed into one of the most underrated but solid receivers in the National Football League.

Because of the whole “small town Kansas guy” background, the Wisconsin Tourism board made an ad with him last year falling in love with the state of Wisconsin and becoming a “small town Wisconsin guy” – complete with all the obvious and expected “hey, we’re not in Kansas anymore!” jokes.

That ad, in case you didn’t get to see it nationally (chances are, you probably did), is below.

So what does any of this have to do with racing, you ask?

Nelson gets to go home again when he’ll drive the Toyota Highlander pace car for the Kansas 400, Saturday night, May 10, at Kansas Speedway. The news was reported earlier Tuesday by Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass and Charlotte Observer’s Jim Utter, among others.

Nelson, understandably, is thrilled with the opportunity.

“Getting the chance to drive alongside some of the greatest racers in the world is truly a dream come true,” Nelson said in a track release. “I couldn’t think of a better place to do it than at my home-state track, Kansas Speedway.”

It’s not the first time an NFL player has been linked to driving a pace car at a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this year. Earlier this month, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Richmond International Raceway president Dennis Bickmeier and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III were collectively tweeting each other to discuss the possibility of RGIII doing the honors this weekend. But that didn’t gain traction.

This did, and is, for the guy who’s one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”