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John Calipari doesn’t get to drive the pace car

John Calipari

Kentucky men’s basketball coach and honorary pace car driver John Calipari, right, signs autographs for fans before the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Kentucky Speedway at Sparta, Ky., Saturday, June 29, 2013. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

AP

After getting lessons in taking the left turns at Kentucky Speedway from Kurt Busch, Kentucky coach John Calipari was supposed to ride shotgun in the pace car for the Quaker State 400 in Sparta, Ky. on Saturday.

Then he got the news that he’d be driving the pace car, cruising at a manageable 45 mph ahead of the pack. Calipari also was given a custom racing jacket, which he will auction off for charity.

His crash-course instruction included 90-mph splits in the rain around the 1.5-mile oval by Busch, which had the coach “white-knuckled” and holding on tightly on the passenger side as the car came within inches of the outside retaining wall. Fortunately for Calipari, he only has to drive a more comfortable 45 mph ahead of the field.

“When I went 45 (mph), I wasn’t nervous,” Calipari said, “but when he (Busch) was going 90 and 100 (mph) in that rain, all these grooves are great, I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh.’


However, rain delayed the race until noon on Sunday. As a result, he would have to wait.Looks like Calipari didn’t make it back to the track for a shot at redemption on Sunday.

Though #Kentucky coach John Calipari did not return to drive pace car following Saturday’s rainout, the Quaker State 400 about to start.

— Tim Sullivan (@TimSullivan714) June 30, 2013


Understandable. Calipari is a busy man and his time is stretched, even (maybe especially) in the offseason.But it looks like he definitely has a good excuse for missing to opportunity. I mean, as those of us that are married will tell you, you can’t upset the wife.

The coach had expressed confidence that the race would be run, but he now must make another trip here and figure out how to make it up to his wife on their vacation.

“The good Lord knows how mad my wife is right now,” Calipari said before knowing he might have to take another vacation day.


Even in auto racing, Calipari can’t best Louisville recently.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten