Brendan Gaughan tries to turn sharks into NASCAR fans

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Having grown up in the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas, going on to play college basketball for Georgetown University and then having been a popular NASCAR driver for more than a decade, Brendan Gaughan knows how to play to crowds.

But Gaughan — a certified SCUBA diver and instructor — outdid himself Tuesday at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, where he made a promotional appearance for next month’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Having been tipped off by a prior press release, we already knew Gaughan was going to climb into the Aquarium and do one of his favorite things for relaxation — swimming with sharks.

Yes, you read that right. Gaughan likes to hang out underwater with some real man-eaters.

(Point of reference: we’re talking about the swimming kind, not the guys he bangs fenders with every week on racetracks across the country.)

But here’s where Gaughan the promoter and attention-grabber shined. Not only did he play with sharks, he wore a pit crew shirt — festooned with all the right emblems and patches of his sponsors — over his diving wet suit. If that isn’t great promotion — or chutzpah, at least — we don’t know what is.

But you know what? We like it.

The only thing that was missing was Gaughan having his racing helmet on, but we’ll cut him a break on that.

Check here to see a story and video of Gaughan’s exploits.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski