CONCORD, N.C. — Tonight’s NASCAR Monster Energy All-Star Race has attracted a handful of Monster Energy sponsored athlete and other celebrities for the night’s festivities.
Among the Monster back athletes is Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza, who is serving as the Grand Marshal for the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Joining him are:
- Motorcross racer and former NASCAR driver Ricky Carmichael, who will serve as honorary pace car driver.
- World champion bull rider J.B. Mauney, serving as honorary starter.
- Trophy truck truck racer B.J. Baldwin, serving as honorary Grand Marshal Truck driver.
Also taking in the 32nd All-Star Race are Washington Redskins running back DeAngelo Williams and Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Rudolph is a guest of Chip Ganassi Racing and the No. 42 team, which is sponsored by Minnesota-based Target.
While this weekend is Rudolph’s first Cup event, the Cincinnati-native is no stranger to NASCAR. Years before Cup competed there, Rudolph attended Xfinity Series races at Kentucky Speedway.
“It’s been awesome, we started yesterday over at the Ganassi shop and got to see the behind the scenes stuff things an outsider, or a fan from a distance, has no idea (about),” Rudolph told reporters Saturday in the No. 42 team’s hauler. “As a football player, there’s parallel’s. A lot of people think we just go practice for a couple hours a day and play on Sundays and that’s it. You don’t really know all the details and the things that are involved with the weekly preparation. We were able to learn about that yesterday and get a feel for everything that goes into putting the car on track on Sunday. That was a lot of fun, then we came over here and watched qualifying. Got to see Kyle sit on the pole and were super fired up for that, first NASCAR (Cup) race and we ended up in Victory Lane. Can’t complain with that.”
Rudolph, who has younger cousins that compete in Late Model cars on dirt tracks, last year was part of the “Kyle Goes Pro” video series for his Pro Bowl campaign. The series followed Rudolph as he stepped into the shoes of athletes with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.
Part of Rudolph’s NASCAR experience was visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame. What was his favorite part?
“Definitely not the simulator,” Rudolph said. “Out of our group I came in last and my wife came in second. Still haven’t heard the end of that one.”