NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 86: Ato Boldon on venturing into NASCAR coverage

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Ato Boldon wasn’t familiar with the pacing of a NASCAR pit stop until recently, but the elapsed times on the wall at Joe Gibbs Racing seemed familiar.

Many were in the 10- to 12-second bracket that wouldn’t have been out of place at a track and field

“They have them all (the times) listed in the (pit crew) practice area, and you guys deal in the same sort of amount of time that sprinters deal in,” Boldon said during a guest appearance on the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “You get obsessed about finding new ways to get faster.

“Because in that sport, as well as in my sport, a hundredth of a second or 10th of a second is everything. So I’m slowly but surely starting to find the things that link two sports that you would not think have any link whatsoever.”

Boldon will explore those links as a new contributor to NASCAR on NBC’s coverage this season for four races, starting this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. He is the lead track and field analyst for NBC Sports Group, which he joined in 2007 after winning four medals for Trinidad and Tobago competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

During his visit to Joe Gibbs Racing, Boldon tested the limits of his athleticism while helping out in pit stop practice and working out in a facility that “looks like a pro training locker room.

“Those guys are probably 11-12 years younger than me, so I was out there lifting with them, learning how to change tires, jacking up the car,” he said. “Those guys are feeling great. I’m feeling a little sore.

“I truly didn’t (know that pit crew members were athletes) Being in their gym is not that dissimilar from an Olympic training experience. These guys are pushing sleds and doing box jumps and a lot of the same lifts. It speaks to how all sports follow a common thread now. You specialize certainly, but there are certain things that all sports do.”

During the podcast, Boldon also addressed:

–How footwork and choreography to improve times in sprinting is similar to pit stops;

–His love of speed (he is the former owner of a Porsche that raced on an amateur level);

–The similarities between personalities in NASCAR and track and field.

–Being a licensed pilot (and sharing an interest in aviation with some Cup drivers).

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