New England Patriot, ex-Boston Red Sox to play role in upcoming New Hampshire race

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The July 19 Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will have a distinct New England flavor.

The track has announced that pre-race ceremonies for the New Hampshire 301, which airs on NBCSN, will be led by a New England Patriot and a former Boston Red Sox.

Defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who recorded three tackles, including a sack in the Patriots’ 28-24 Super Bowl win in February, will be the honorary pace car driver, leading the 43-car field to the green flag.

“Julian (Edelman) was talking in the locker room about how much fun he had driving the pace car last (July) and he went on to have a career season,” said Ninkovich in a release.

“I thought I’d join in the fun this year. I think it’s going to be awesome to be at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in front of all those people, and be a part of the race.”

But before the drivers take to the 1.058-mile track, the invocation will be led by Rico Petrocelli, a two-time American League All-Star who played for the Red Sox for 13 seasons from 1963-1976.

Petrocelli told track officials he got a taste of racing when he would drag race in the offseason, before the Red Sox caught on to it

“It is a tremendous honor to deliver the invocation prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July,” said Petrocelli in a release. “New England is a baseball region, no doubt – this is Red Sox country, after all. But it’s developed into a very knowledgeable racing region, too. I can’t wait to be a part of the show.”