Calipari set to drive pace car at Speedway

SPARTA, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky coach John Calipari will be behind the wheel of the pace car when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 begins Saturday night at the Kentucky Speedway.

The UK coach will lead the parade lap in a red, white and blue Ford Fusion. The race is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Earlier on Saturday, Calipari rode around the tri-oval track with Kurt Busch, who will be driving in the race.

"In the rain, we were going 85 miles per hour and I had white knuckles," Calipari told WKYT after. "Kurt said, 'we're just going to glide up to the wall,' which was right next to me. In the rain."

Calipari was wearing a custom made racing jacket, which sports the UK logo on the front and Cal's "Refuse to Lose" logo on the back. On each sleeve are the years of UK's national championships. The blue jacket, with black sleeves, will be auctioned off at a later date.

"That was part of the deal," Calipari said. "I'll do the pace car, but I want a racer's jacket."

Calipari said the laps were part of trying to get a feel for the track and it's layout.

"I have to go 45 miles per hour around this track. I don't want to jinx myself, but I believe I can do that."

NASCAR isn't new to Calipari. While coaching at UMass, Calipari said he had been to a couple of races.

"This is the first time I've driven like that. I'm trying to figure out do I really want to race them. Does the pace car have to come off?" he said with a laugh.

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