The NASCAR Cup Series head to Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 11 to cap off a packed weekend of racing. A special guest from the NFL will be on hand to kick off the festivities and will spend time on the 1.5-mile oval. Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift will lead the nearly 40-car field to the green flag as the honorary pace car driver.
A second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Swift landed with the Lions after a standout career at the University of Georgia. He spent three seasons with the Bulldogs, scoring 25 times and registering 3,551 yards from scrimmage. Swift left college after his junior season and declared for the NFL Draft.
Swift partnered with veteran running back Adrian Peterson during his first season as a pro. He started four of the 13 games in which he appeared and rushed for 521 yards, scoring eight times. Swift added another 357 yards and two touchdowns as a receiving option for the now-departed Matthew Stafford, who also spent his college career at the University of Georgia.
The Quaker State 400 will take place on Sunday, July 11, at 3:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the event, as well as Swift’s pace laps around the oval.
Swift Will Drive the Pace Car at a Packed Venue
When the Detroit Lions running back heads to AMS to serve as the honorary pace car driver, he will join thousands of other people in attendance. Track officials announced in early May that the Quaker State 400 would not have any ticket limitations and that a full-capacity crowd could watch the race.
A press release explained that the number of vaccinations and the relaxed public health restrictions had set the stage for full fan attendance at both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series races. The track officials recommend that unvaccinated fans wear a mask to the races but will not require them to do so.
“As we’ve seen millions across Georgia and the Southeast get vaccinated, public health restrictions have eased and that gives us the green flag to take a big step towards welcoming more people to enjoy race weekend,” said AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison. “Needless to say, we can’t wait to have thousands of fans join us for some thrilling NASCAR action this summer.”
Swift Joins Another NFL Running Back as Honorary Pace Car Driver
NASCAR has spent much of the 2021 season working with the NFL while bringing stock car racing to another audience. The sanctioning body featured Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as grand marshals for races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, respectively. NASCAR also tapped another running back to serve as the honorary pace car driver.
The top three series in NASCAR headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway Memorial Day Weekend for three days of racing action. Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey joined in the pre-race festivities at the North Carolina track. He climbed into the Toyota Camry TRD pace car and led the stacked field of Cup Series stars to the green flag that started the Coca-Cola 600.
McCaffrey did not simply head to the track and climb into the car, however. He first spent time with his close friend, Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon. The two discussed a variety of topics before the Panthers running back took the TRD out on the track for the first time.