The NFL and NASCAR share a lot in common. Both dominate Sundays across the United States, have huge events in February and include long drives with Greg Olsen.
Wait, what? Yeah, the Carolina Panthers tight end will try his hand at driving when the Sprint All-Star Race comes to Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21. He won’t be in the All-Star Race, but he’ll lead the field as the honorary pace car driver under the lights.
“Since arriving in Charlotte I have developed a great admiration for NASCAR and their athletes,” Olsen said in a release from CMS. “Their concept of teamwork and commitment to excellence is second to none and I have a great deal of respect for the drivers and their teams. I am honored to be included in such an event and I am looking forward to driving the pace car to kick off the 2016 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.”
The two-time Pro Bowler tallied 77 receptions for 1,104 yards and seven touchdown during the 2015 regular season. He then helped lead Carolina to its second NFC Championship and first since 2003. Olsen and the Panthers ultimately lost in Super Bowl 50 to Peyton Manning — who was in attendance for the Bristol race — and the Denver Broncos.
This isn’t the first time a Panthers star has crossed over into the world of NASCAR. Most recently, linebacker Thomas Davis drove the pace car during the Coca-Cola 600 last season to cap off the Charlotte festivities.
Olsen’s roots in NASCAR run deep thanks to a close friendship with Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The two North Carolina icons partner for an event called “Weekend with the 88’s” during November to benefit the Levine Children’s Hospital. After Davis got a ride with Earnhardt last year to prepare for the pace car experience, expect Olsen to get a ride along with Junior in the near future.