LOUDON, N.H. — Patrick Chung will lead the field to green in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and you can bet the New England Patriots safety’s heart will be racing.
The 30-year-old will drive the pace car in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, which will be the only Cup race race at NHMS this season. Chung trained for his big moment prior to the race, and he learned there’s more to driving the pace car than one might expect.
“It was good … it’s a lot more technical than you think,” Chung told NESN Fuel’s Courtney Cox on Sunday. “You’re not just driving the pace car, you’re making sure the guys don’t get penalized, you know, making sure everyone’s staying in their lane and doing their thing.
“It’s cool, it’s a very good experience.”
(To hear what Chung had to say about his NASCAR cameo, watch our interview with him above.)
As excited as the nine-year pro is to lead the field at the Magic Mile, Chung also knows he needs to be careful.
“Not scared, but nervous a little bit,” Chung said. ” … The corners can be scary, depending on how fast you’re going … it feels like you’re going to tip over.”
Chung will be the fifth Patriot to drive the pace car at NHMS. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, wide receiver Julian Edelman, retired linebacker Rob Ninkovich and retired offensive tackle Matt Light all have driven the pace car in the Granite State’s annual Cup race.
So, did the two-time Super Bowl champion seek advice from his colleagues?
“McDaniels actually talked to me, he was like, ‘Man, this is cool, it’s a good experience,’ ” Chung said. “Said he got to go fast … he was a little scared.”
Chung admits he’s not a diehard NASCAR fan, but Sunday’s experience might have won him over.
“It’s exciting to watch, these guys are moving,” he said before the race. “They’re going 150, 200 mph, and I have nothing but respect for these guys. They’re pretty much risking their lives out there, just racing.
“And it’s fun, it’s good to see, it’s exhilarating.”
Chung is set to enter his ninth season with the Patriots. He and his teammates will begin preparations for the 2018 season when training camp begins Wednesday.
Quarterback Tom Brady, however, apparently plans to report to camp earlier than expected.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images