University of Kentucky Men's Basketball Head Coach John Calipari will be the honorary Ford Fusion pace car driver for Kentucky Speedway's June 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts and will help lead a 43-car field to the green flag just after 7:30 p.m.
"It's kind of like walking out in the Final Four and having your team behind you, excited and ready to go. The last time I was part of this event it was incredible. This is a great thing that brings our people together. The state of Kentucky takes great pride in the facility like it does in basketball, like it does in horseracing, like it does in bourbon.
"The speed of it is what gets everybody hyped and understanding the courage of those drivers. We sit up in the stands and know how fast they are going, yet they have the courage to be inches from each other at that speed and have the vision and wherewithal to say 'I'm doing this, we're gonna get this done'. Having a bunch of them that are the best in the world at what they do in one setting like this is going to be unbelievably exciting," Calipari said.
Calipari guided the 2011-12 Wildcats to the program's eighth NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship and 15th Final Four appearance. His team, led by Associated Press Player of the Year Anthony Davis and All-American Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, earned 38 victories and posted an unblemished 16-0 Southeastern Conference record.
The coach earned his first national championship after making his second straight and fourth Final Four appearance. He is one of two coaches to lead three different programs to a Final Four. He enters his fifth UK season owning a 123-26 mark with the Wildcats and a 526-164 head coaching record through 21 campaigns.
"We welcome Coach Calipari back to our speedway and look forward to him leading one of the quickest fast breaks in history of our commonwealth," Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said.
The Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts will be the finale for the speedway's tripleheader NASCAR weekend. Racing begins Thursday, June 27 with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) UNOH 225 and continues Friday, June 28 with the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) Feed The Children 300.