post
1

RGIII may drive pace car at April NASCAR race

R0806_skins

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III gives autographs after practice at training camp in Richmond, Va., Monday, August 5, 2013. Griffin plans to be in Richmond for the NASCAR race on April 26.

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III may be coming to Richmond early this year.

Griffin has been invited to participate in the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on April 26 at Richmond International Raceway, potentially as the pace car driver.

The idea was set in motion by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is a big Redskins fan.

Griffin sent a message from his Twitter account on Sunday night saying he was on board, though RIR president Dennis Bickmeier said Monday afternoon nothing has been confirmed yet.

Bickmeier said he’s hopeful Griffin can participate, and that the track would give him “the full NASCAR experience.”

“There are so many great connection points, given that training camp is here, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a big Redskins fan, and (former coach) Joe Gibbs will be here with his racing team,” Bickmeier said. “Also, Fox TV will broadcast the race, and they have the NFC package of NFL games.”

NASCAR allows a celebrity to drive the pace car during the warm-up laps and then to lead the drivers to the starting line of the race.

Other tracks do this regularly – last week actress Mindy Kaling, of The Mindy Project, drove the pace car before the Auto Club 400.

An RIR spokesman said he didn’t think a celebrity had ever driven the pace car before a race in Richmond.

Earnhardt first pitched the idea Sunday night. He sent a tweet to Griffin and Bickmeier recommending the quarterback for the role of grand marshal.

The grand marshal leads track events on race day, and gives drivers the command to start their engines before the race.

Bickmeier asked if Griffin might instead be interested in driving the pace car.

An hour later, Griffin tweeted: “I’m game, brother.”

On Monday, the track was still scrambling to lock down the details, having been caught off guard by the chain of events the previous night.

“It shows you the power of social media,” Bickmeier said.

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

@michaelpRTD