BRISTOL (Feb. 11, 2014) – In less than two weeks, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards will be sitting behind the wheel of his No. 99 Ford Fusion and preparing for the Daytona 500.
But before concerning himself with driving at speeds well in excess of 200 mph, he spent Tuesday afternoon brushing up on some gridiron skills with the help of the ETSU football coaching staff.
During a promotional media opportunity for the Food City 500, which will run next month at Bristol Motor Speedway, Edwards stopped at Velocity Sports Performance in Bristol and was put through a series of football-related drills. The idea for the event originated after a series of comments in November from former NFL All-Pro quarterback Donovan McNabb, who said that NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson just “sits in a car and he drives. That doesn't make you athletic ... What athletically is he doing?"
ETSU’s coaches – including head coach Carl Torbush, assistant coach Teddy Gaines and director of football operations Lee Morrow – were glad to put those comments to the test, as they helped evaluate the athleticism and football potential of one of NASCAR’s top drivers.
“I could see his athleticism immediately,” Torbush said. “Physically, he has the build of a defensive back and even a linebacker. It was great fun to be involved in helping with this event, and it was great to meet Carl because I had never met him."
Edwards got his most hands-on instruction from Gaines, who put him through a series of drills designed to help defensive backs with their footwork. While Edwards seemed to catch on quickly, it was a particularly thrilling experience for Gaines, who counts himself as a fan of Edwards on the track.
“I told him I’m a fan and that I own a Ford Fusion – and like him I like to drive it fast,” Gaines said with a smile. “I thought Carl did a great job and caught on quickly to what we were doing. It was a lot of fun.”
Edwards, who will actually begin competition in Daytona on Friday with the start of Speed Weeks, said the expertise of ETSU’s coaching staff was obvious.
“(Teddy) was a really good teacher out there,” Edwards said. “What’s really neat is getting to have a chance to learn from people who are experts in their field and know how to instruct it. That was obvious when we were out there. It’s just like our sport in that there are so many details that make the difference in success and failure.”
Before wrapping up the event, Torbush and his staff presented Edwards with an ETSU Football pullover and made sure to invite him back to Johnson City to experience a Buccaneer game day.
“I definitely hope we can have him back to ETSU sometime in the future for a game,” Torbush said.
For more on ETSU football, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football link.