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Former New York Jets draft pick makes NASCAR pit crew debut

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 30: Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 30, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Former New York Jets draft pick Josh Bush partook in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 as a tire changer for Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet on Sunday.

Josh Bush used to patrol 100 yards on Sundays. His new endeavors now have him working with 600 miles.

Bush, a former New York Jets draft pick, made his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday evening. He was part of the pit crew for the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, serving as the team’s rear tire changer during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The No. 3 at RCR is best known for its days with the late Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel (1984-2001) but is now piloted by Austin Dillon, the grandson of team owner Childress.

Bush previously worked through a four-year NFL career that began with the Jets when they chose him in the sixth round in the 2012 draft. The Wake Forest alum partook in three seasons with the Jets, earning 28 tackles and a forced fumble. He later moved on to Denver, notably tying for the team lead in tackles (6) during the 2015 AFC Championship Game victory over New England. Bush would later tally two tackles in the Super Bowl 50 triumph against his hometown team of Carolina.

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After his NFL departure, Bush was regularly exposed to NASCAR due to its popularity in the southeast. But he knew little about auto racing when Dillon himself approached him to join his No. 3 crew. After some coaxing from the 2018 Daytona 500 champion, Bush took to the track and was immediately exhilarated.

“I kind of fell in love with it when I approached the car and my adrenaline went up,” Bush said in a report from Clara Goodwin of Fox 8/WGHP. “It hadn’t done that since football.”

Bush’s duties as a tire changer have him partaking in pit stops that must often be completed in less than a quarter-minute. As a tire changer, he is one of five pit crew members allowed over the wall during a service. Changers use air wrenches to remove and fasten lug nuts from and on the car, which will incur penalties if any are loose upon inspection.

Prior to Sunday, Bush was listed as a rear tire changer for several teams in NASCAR’s lower-tier national touring series, including Saturday’s Xfinity Series (the equivalent of AAA-baseball) event at Charlotte. Bush was listed as a tire changer for the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet driven by Justin Haley.

Bush made a brief appearance in the premier Cup Series during March’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He worked as a mechanic for the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet driven by Daniel Suarez. Both Kaulig and Trackhouse (whose co-owner is recording artist and philanthropist Pitbull) share technical alliances with RCR.

Now working with the No. 3, Bush made his pit road debut at Charlotte, which has annually hosted a 600-mile endurance event, the longest on the NASCAR circuit, since 1960. With the help of Bush’s service, Dillon (winner of the event in 2017) ran a clean race in the No. 3 and finished sixth, tied for his best result of the season since a third-place posting in the season-opening Daytona 500. The race was won by Kyle Larson in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Bush’s pit road endeavors aren’t the Jets’ first steps in auto racing. Receiver and 1990 draftee Terance Mathis previously served as the Vice President of Marketing for Leavine Family Racing, which fielded the No. 95 car in the Cup Series for a decade (2011-20).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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