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NBA great Jerry West an uneasy rider in NASCAR

West and King 2

Billie Jean King, former World No. 1 tennis player, and Jerry West, former NBA player, speak at a press conference prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Kena Krutsinger

JOLIET, Ill. – If this whole basketball and tennis thing doesn’t work out, NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West and tennis great Billie Jean King might want to put together a comedy act and take it on the road.

The two sports legends are serving as co-grand marshals for Sunday’s opening race of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, the 400.

West was asked by NASCAR Talk if he went through with a pace car ride for a few hot laps that was scheduled Saturday.

“I was so apprehensive that I went back to the hotel and locked myself in so no one would make me come out and ride anything,” West said with a laugh.

To that, King responded, “Are you kidding me? You should have heard him this morning. ‘I want to drive that car, let’s go.’ I was like, ‘Really?’”

West’s retort: “I drive very slow, Billie Jean.”

As he was leaving the media center, West once again laughed when he told NASCAR Talk there was no doubt that he would indeed go through with the pace car ride this time: “I’m going to do it today. I’m going to drive it.”

West then slightly paused and then forewarned those who might watch his venture behind the wheel, “If you’re out there or anywhere near, get away from the track.”

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