Several Jets have dabbled in NASCAR, whose Cup Series begins in Daytona on Sunday
Speed will define a Super Bowl in February… but Cam Akers and Joe Mixon are nowhere to be found.
A week after the traditional gridiron edition was carried out on turf, NASCAR’s version will run for 500 miles (and possibly more) on asphalt.
The renowned motorsports association’s premier Cup Series will return to action on Sunday through the running of the Daytona 500 in Florida (3 p.m. ET, Fox). Though the 200-lap event traditionally serves as the official start of the Cup Series season, it is commonly referred to as the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing”.
Though they play far from NASCAR’s conventionally Southeastern fanbase, members of the New York Jets have gotten involved in the high-speed endeavors.
Josh Bush makes his Cup debut as a rear tire changer for Austin Dillon. I explain why he has experience handling pressure in the spotlight today on NASCAR #RaceDay at 4:30p ET on FS1.@NASCARONFOX | @NFLonFOX pic.twitter.com/2ThKE6tDrn
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 30, 2021
Josh Bush was a sixth-round pick of the Jets in 2012 and played two years with the team before moving on to Denver (partaking in the latter’s run to Super Bowl 50).
As a North Carolina native and Wake Forest alum, Bush had always been around NASCAR and was convinced to join the sport by Austin Dillon, the 2018 Daytona 500 winner and current driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
Bush would embark on a variety of roles for RCR and its affiliated teams last season (including Kaulig Racing and Trackhouse Racing) and later serviced the iconic No. 3 car as a tire changer in last season’s Coca-Cola 600, where Dillon finished sixth.
As an NFL receiver for 13 seasons (the first four with the Jets after joining the team as a sixth-round pick in 1990), Terance Mathis developed a reputation for speedy endeavors. He’d go on to invest in a new kind of speed for over a decade, first joining NASCAR in 2005 through the formation of Victory Motorsports.
Though plans to run in the Cup Series failed to materialize, Mathis became the first unofficial African-American majority team owner in this regard (NBA legend Michael Jordan later followed in his footsteps through 23XI Racing, which debuted last season).
More recently, Mathis served as the vice president of marketing of Leavine Family Racing, which fielded the No. 95 car for ten seasons (2011-20). Among its drivers was defending Daytona 500 champion Michael McDowell as well as accomplished Cup Series winners like Kasey Kahne and Christopher Bell.
It seemed like there wasn’t much that Mark Sanchez couldn’t do in the summer of 2011. The Jets’ franchise quarterback had helped guide the team to consecutive AFC title game appearances and had already tied NFL legends like Len Dawson and Roger Staubach for the second-most postseason road wins in league history.
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Sanchez took that ability to the test in a promotional series with deodorant company Degree, in which Sanchez embarked on several jobs throughout sports during the Jets’ offseason. One such endeavor saw him partake in pit crew practice with JR Motorsports, a NASCAR Nationwide Series (now Xfinity Series and the racing equivalent of AAA-baseball) team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Rather than dodging defenders, Sanchez dodged tires as he served as the honorary gas man for the No. 88 Chevrolet driven by future Cup Series playoff contender Aric Almirola. Sanchez has attended several races since then and was one of several celebrities present when NASCAR descended upon a temporary short track at the Los Angeles Coliseum (the site of his collegiate endeavors at USC) for the Busch Light Clash last weekend.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags