TBT: Julian Edelman, The Pace Car Driver
This year, New Hampshire Motor Speedway celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Throughout the year as part of that celebration, the Granite Stripe will throw it back on Thursday and give a small history lesson on past events at the track.
What happens when you throw it back to New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman? Either you get a game-defining touchdown pass to Danny Amendola, or, if it's Thursday at NHMS, you get a story about the time he drove the pace car.
What better week to look back at his visit to NHMS than this one? Edelman is best known as a wide receiver for the Patriots, but on Saturday evening, he flashed back to his days of quarterbacking at Kent State University.
On a play in the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens, New England QB Tom Brady threw a backward pass (classified as a "lateral") to Edelman. A team is only allowed to throw a forward pass once per play. Since some of the Ravens defenders thought the pass had gone forward, they left Amendola wide open down field to try and tackle Edelman, where the receiver-turned-passer hit him in stride for a 51-yard touchdown that tied the game at 28 and led to a 35-31 victory.
At New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the quarterback-cameoing wide receiver is no stranger. This past July, he served as the Honorary Pace Car driver for the Camping World RV Sales 301.
Edelman's visit to the Magic Mile consisted of an early-morning training session in the pace car, which was followed by a tour of the garage area. He had the opportunity to meet some of the drivers in the motorcoach lot, including pole sitter Kyle Busch.
After getting a lay of the land, Edelman answered media questions at a press conference. He joked about how Busch said he was going to bump the back of the pace car before the race and was surprised to find the media nod along.
"Wait! He was serious, wasn't he?" Edelman said with a smirk of chagrin on his face. The media chuckles confirmed that, yes, that was something Busch would be likely to do.
He was then shuttled to the driver's meeting as a distinguished guest with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, announced in front of a crowd about 20,000 larger than the capacity at the Patriots' Gillette Stadium, and headed to the end of pit road for his pre-green flag pacing of the field, complete with a bump or two from his new friend in the No. 18.
Julian Edelman. Wide receiver. Quarterback. Pace car driver.