If you’re like most NASCAR fans, you’d give anything to get behind the wheel of a stock car and take a few laps around a racetrack.
And then there’s the other option, logging laps and miles in a simulator.
NBCSN’s Ato Boldon had the opportunity to do both recently at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and the Chevrolet Simulator.
Boldon was coached at Texas by NBCSN counterpart Jeff Burton, getting up to 91.525 mph, which still was quite a bit slower than Kurt Busch‘s record-setting pole speed Friday for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 of 200.915 mph.
And Alex Bowman, who will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet next season, coached Boldon as he made his paces in the Chevy Simulator.
Boldon hit the wall several times under Bowman’s tutelage, prompting Bowman to jokingly quip, “You are terrible, I don’t know where to start. … They said if you spend every day here for the next five years, they’ll let you drive the NBC car.”
Added a laughing and good-natured Boldon, “After being in the simulator, I don’t want to go anywhere near that NBC car.”
Check out the video above.
One of the most popular tools NASCAR teams use today to help prepare drivers for races are simulators, which can recreate racing without anyone having to actually visit a track.
NBCSN’s Ato Boldon recently spent time with Alex Bowman to find out more about simulators. Bowman has worked on the team’s simulator this season as he prepares to take over the No. 88 Chevrolet from Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season.
After the feature, which you can watch above, NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett spoke with Bowman and William Byron about how simulator work helps them prepare for a race weekend.
“So you have your first lap of you’re not really sure how far you can get it in the corner,” Bowman said. “(The simulator) takes that away. You show up at the track, you’re ready to go right off the truck. The more real we make that, the better it’s going to be.”
Said Byron: “Your lift points and everything, where you pick up on the throttle, is the same. The feeling when you go into the corner for the first time, you don’t have that shock of what it’s going to feel like. It’s a good to to get yourself acclimated for the weekend.”
Watch the above video for more, including the drivers talking about their relationships with teammates Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson.
NBC Sports’ Ato Boldon, a former Olympic runner, recently embedded himself at Joe Gibbs Racing to look at the team’s strength and conditioning practices for its many pit crews.
Boldon talked with JGR’s strength coach Adam Mosher and Jena Gatses, a doctor of physical therapy.
Watch the above video to see what Boldon found.
With Dale Earnhardt Jr. nearing the end of his Cup Series career, NBC Sports analysts Ato Boldon, a four-time Olympic medalist in track and field, discussed how the twilight of Earnhardt’s career compares to that of Usain Bolt, whose running career recently ended with a hamstring injury in the last race of his career.
“I think there are a lot of similarities,” Boldon said. “I think a lot of people would have loved to have seen Junior having a better year in this his final season. It’s the same thing that happened in London. That place was sold, 60,000 people, because we wanted to see how Usain Bolt would go out. The fans were hoping he would go out with a win.”
Watch the rest of the video for Boldon’s take on NASCAR, which he is discovering this year as a member of the NASCAR on NBC team.
The newest member of our NASCAR On NBC family, former Olympian Ato Boldon, headed to Daytona this week to learn about it’s rich racing history, as well as hopped into a 1938 stock car to try experience driving on Daytona’s infamous beach course first hand.