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

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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.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”