Donovan McNabb was at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday for the Sprint Cup Series race, facing the same drivers he said a year ago weren’t athletes.
And the former NFL quarterback didn’t back-peddle.
“I stand by what I said,” McNabb told NASCAR.com. “It’s a mental sport.”
McNabb created a controversy last year when he said it didn’t take any athletic ability to sit in a car for three hours and turn left. Immediately several drivers invited him to a race so he could see for himself.
He got a pace car ride from Clint Bowyer before the race and he took a spin around the 2-mile racetrack on his own. Once the race started, he sat in Jimmie Johnson’s pit.
It did little to change his mind.
“I respect what they do. I truly, truly love what they do,” he said. “I’m not here to make friends.”
He laughed when asked if he was scared to drive 120 mph on the backstretch.
“I don’t have the need for speed,” he said. “I went 120 down the straightaway and kept it off the wall. I didn’t flinch. Strong man here. That’s how I do business.”
HAMLIN CLEARED: A small piece of metal in his eye, and not a sinus infection, caused Denny Hamlin to miss last week’s Auto Club 400.
Hamlin underwent further testing in California before he was cleared to fly home. He was evaluated in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday and again on Wednesday, when it was determined he had no lingering issues and is cleared to race this weekend.
Hamlin was not medically cleared to race last Sunday by doctors in the infield care center at Auto Club Speedway. He had visited the care center on Saturday and Sunday complaining of an irritation to his eye, and it was determined at the track that it was related to a recent sinus infection Hamlin had suffered.
Hamlin was referred to a local hospital for further evaluation, and once there, “a small piece of metal was found to be in Hamlin’s eye,” Joe Gibbs Racing said in a statement Wednesday.
The metal was removed and JGR said “Hamlin felt immediate improvement.”
By then, the race at Fontana had already started and replacement driver Sam Hornish Jr. was behind the wheel.
SCALING BACK: NASCAR is considering a reduction in horsepower for next year to make engines more reliable and to create better racing, NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton said.
Toyota and Chevrolet would like to switch to smaller 5.0-liter engines while Ford wants a tapered spacer that essentially would act like a restrictor plate to reduce the flow of air and gas into the engine … Although Denny Hamlin missed Sunday’s race with blurry vision and a headache, it won’t hurt his chances to win the championship. All he has to do to qualify for the playoffs is to win a race between Sunday’s STP 500 at the Martinsville Speedway or the Federated Auto Parts 400 at the Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 6.