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

Wickens tops final Road America practice

Photo: IndyCar
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Robert Wickens showed the way in final practice for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, topping the speed charts with a quick time of 1:42.991, the only time below 1:43 during the session.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, and Graham Rahal completed the top five.

The lone incident of the session came right at the end, when Zach Veach went for a spin exiting Bill Mitchell Bend (turn 13). However, Veach did not suffer any damage in the incident.

Times are below. Qualifying begins at 4:00 p.m. ET (3:00 p.m. local time) and will air on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Follow@KyleMLavigne