AJ: Saban had simple advice for driving pace car
by Mark Edwards
May 05, 2013 | 14492 views |  0 comments | 316 316 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron gives a thumbs up from the driver's seat of the Aaron's 499 pace car Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron gives a thumbs up from the driver's seat of the Aaron's 499 pace car Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
TALLADEGA -- Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is one-upping his coach by driving the pace car at today's Aaron's 499 race, and don't think he isn't letting Nick Saban know about it.

Saban served as grand marshal at the race in 2009, but didn't get to drive.

"I joked with him that he's one of the most important guys in Alabama and he had to ride in the passenger seat. What does it say about me that I'm driving?" McCarron said this morning before his trip around Talladega Speedway.

He said Saban had one piece of advice for him: "Whatever you do, don't wreck it."

When McCarron got behind the wheel, he didn't wreck, instead maneuvering the crimson pace car around the track before getting off and giving way to the professionals.

Before his lap, McCarron said he used to be a fast driver when he drove a Camaro, and "I used to test it."

"But now I drive a regular old SUV and don't drive as fast," he said with a grin.

When asked about NASCAR, McCarron said he's a big fan, which seems like the politically correct answer while sitting in the media center at Talladega Superspeedway. But he proceeded to show off a knowledge of the sport, which he said he learned to love from his father, uncle and grandfather. His father and uncle served as pit crew for McCarron's grandfather, who raced in Mobile.

"My family are huge NASCAR fans," he said. "I'm was a big Bill Elliott fan. Then I liked Kasey Kahne because he learned under him. Now I like Dale (Earnhardt) Jr."

McCarron said his father is a big Elliott fan, too.

"And Kasey drives the same way. He drives high, which is the same way Bill Elliott drive," McCarron said. "Plus, I liked the McDonald's car when Bill Elliott drove the McDonald's car."

This isn't McCarron's first trip to Talladega. He said in the past he was able to spend a race in driver Clint Bowyer's pit box.

"It's kind of like football, in that they're always communicating," McCarron said. "You can truly see it in the pit box. Everybody is communicating, and everybody has to be on the same page. You don't get to see it when you're watching at home. When you're listening to them, you can see how they're working."

Before driving, McCarron said he felt like the character Ricky Bobby from the movie Talladega Nights.

"It's like he said, 'I'm ready to go fast,'" McCarron said.

He added he was a little nervous, especially with pole-sitter Carl Edwards behind him.

"I'm probably going to be more nervous if Carl Edwards bumps me from behind," he said.

McCarron said he figures he will hear "Roll Tide!" a few times today. In fact, national anthem singer Robin Meade, an HLN television anchor, said she was told by one of the drivers that the best way to get the crowd on her side was to say "Roll Tide!" before singing.

"I know that a lot of Alabama fans who go to Alabama games also come here," McCarron said. "Alabama and NASCAR are two great fan bases. They both show passion for their sport, and that's something that's similar between the two."

Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at medwards@annistonstar.com. Follow on Twitter @MarkSportsStar.
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