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On weekend of draft, NFL player mans pace car

May 10, 2014, Jim Pedley, NASCAR Wire Service,

Jordy Nelson had even bigger role than anticipated

On the weekend of the annual NFL draft, it was appropriate that the honorary pace car driver for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway was a Kansas-born NFL player.

Jordy Nelson, a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, was a top player at Kansas State, which is located in Manhattan, about 125 miles east of the speedway.

And Nelson got a unique experience, too. Approaching rain dotted the track with drizzle, delaying the green-flag time by approximately 35 minutes. Once Nelson was in the pace car, he received constant radio updates from Sprint Cup Series Race Director David Hoots, who was forced to give multiple "one to go" calls before the track was suitable.

When it was finally time for Nelson to steer the pace car off the track, Hoots thanked Nelson and said, "Jordy, you don't have these problems up in Green Bay, do you?"

After taking some laps in a Richard Petty Driving Experience car as training for driving the pace car, Nelson said, "It was estimated we got up to around 150 to 155 mph on the backstretch. I'm glad I don't do it for a living."

Nelson said he didn't realize he would actually have a serious job to perform as honorary pace car driver. That would be setting the pace for 43 cars.

Nelson said the Saturday night Kansas race would mark the first NASCAR event he has attended.

"One of the coolest things I've ever done," Nelson said of driving the pace car.