Thursday, September 2, 2010

Erin Andrews straps in at Atlanta

ESPN/ABC host and reporter Erin Andrews poses alongside a stock car prior to
taking a ride-along around Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Atlanta Motor Speedway)

ESPN reporter/host Erin Andrews joined former NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett for a few laps around Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday to preview the on-track action expected during the Emory Healthcare 500 on Sunday.

Despite growing up in the South, the trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway marked Andrews’ first trip to a NASCAR facility.

“I’ve been to probably the biggest events in all of sports – the Super Bowl, both college championships and the World Series – but I have never been to a NASCAR race,” said Andrews.

Prior to her ride with Jarrett, Andrews appeared confident and touted her thrill-seeking credentials – until the former NASCAR star started the high-powered car.

“I love Space Mountain at Disney World, and I’m assuming this is not like it at all but we’ll see,” Andrews joked just before Jarrett cranked the engine. “OK. That just made me nervous.”

The duo made approximately six laps around the speedway, with Jarrett riding within inches of the Atlanta Motor Speedway wall.

Atlanta Motor Speedway President and General Manager Ed Clark poses with Andrews and former
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and current ESPN/ABC NASCAR analyst Dale Jarrett
following Andrews' ride-along experience around Atlanta. (Atlanta Motor Speedway)

Immediately upon exiting the car, Andrews exclaimed: “Forget football! I’m doing this now.” But knowing her bread is buttered on the gridiron, Andrews quickly let the media know she was, “… just kidding.”

Further maintaining her playful demeanor with the media, when asked how fast Jarrett drove, to which he replied 170 mph, Andrews quickly countered with “185.”

While the experience was an enjoyable cross promotion for the ESPN talent, the experience also reinforced Andrews’ respect for NASCAR’s stars behind the wheel.

“I was telling Dale as soon as he could hear me, this gave me such a different perspective and so much respect for these guys do,” explained Andrews. “I was just on a track by myself [with Dale] and I was [laughing] like a little kid. I can’t imagine all the other cars being on the track and trying to worry about passing them, maintaining position and winning the thing and don’t hit them or the wall.

“This was one heck of an experience, she continued. “I can’t imagine doing it with other drivers on the track and it really opened my eyes. I have always had respect for these people, but now it’s different and this was amazing.”

Andrews and Jarrett. Andrews traveled more than 170 mph
with Jarrett behind the wheel.
(Atlanta Motor Speedway)

Release courtesy of Atlanta Motor Speedway


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