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NASCAR: Drivers respond to Tate’s words

Associated Press
GLADEVILLE, Tenn. ó Golden Tate of the Seattle Seahawks ruffled NASCAR drivers and fans when he tweeted that driving a car doesnít show athleticism.
And some drivers still are not very happy with the football player.
Brad Keselowski thinks Tate had his head stuck somewhere wrong and certainly attracted plenty of attention if thatís what he wanted.
ěYou can say that about a lot of sports,î Keselowski said Friday. ěWhether itís looking at John Daly in golf or a kicker on a football team, and some kickers are (athletic), there are sports where you donít have to be an athlete to do it, but you have to be an athlete to do them well. Racingís one of those.î
Tate tweeted when Sprint Cup driver Jimmie Johnson was included in the Best Male Athlete category for the ESPY awards. NASCAR fans immediately stuck up for their favorite drivers so much that Tate relented and even acknowledged he might be wrong.
Current truck series points leader Johnny Sauter agrees with Keselowski, but heíd like to see anyone who thinks drivers arenít athletes accept a challenge.
ěIíll invite anybody to come sit in the truck for two-and-a-half to three hours and let me know how they feel at the end of it,î said Sauter.
Sauter brought up a group of NASCAR employees that not many think of as athletes either: the pit crew members.
ěThe crew guys work out, and their jobís just as important,î said Sauter. ěIf you want to get technical about the definition of an athlete, those guys going over the wall are athletes.î
HEAT FLASHES
With the forecast calling for a high of 96 degrees and a feels-like temperature over 100, drivers have to be smart when they strap into the cockpit at the Nashville Superspeedway this weekend for races on the trucks series Friday night and the Nationwide Series on Saturday night.
Most have spent the week over-hydrating to help combat the extreme heat that theyíll face during practice sessions and in the race.
ěWe train for this pretty much all year,î said Elliott Sadler, the Nationwide points leader. ěIíve been doing this a long time so I know how to get my body ready.î
Sadler knows his body so well that heís been physically active all week.
ěIíve been on the roof of my house and played in about six softball games this week in over a 100 degree weather,î he said. ěItís actually not too bad in the truck because the sunís not shining on me.
ěI mean, itís hot (so) Iím glad itís night racing because itíll be a little cooler for us, a little cooler for the crew members, and especially the fans. Theyíre not going to be baking out in the sun.î
Austin Dillon gets creative to beat the heat, including ingesting a liquid made for kids who have been running a fever.
ěI feel like I havenít done anything but drink water and Pedialyte,î said Dillon, the grandson of car owner Richard Childress. ěAnything that can just help me stay ready for this weekend.î
TREVORíS BACK
Knoxville native Trevor Bayne is racing in his home state for the second time this season.
The 20-year-old Daytona 500 winner considers Nashville Superspeedway and Bristol Motor Speedway his home tracks.
ěRacing in Tennessee is always great for me. I love coming to Bristol and Nashville both,î said Bayne, the youngest Daytona 500 winner ever. ěIíve been to Bristol a couple more times than here, but this one always seems a little more fun for my friends and family. They can get close to the action. I love Nashville.
ěI love being home. Itís always good to have the family around and friends. I get to sign a few more t-shirts when weíre in Tennessee, so thatís always cool. My grandparents got to come this weekend so itís really cool for me to be home.î
Bayne had to miss five Nationwide races earlier this year after suffering from what his doctors think was Lyme Disease. But he feels fine now.
ěIím great. Iím going back in a couple months to find out if thatís officially what it was,î he said. ěI had treatment for that and my symptoms are gone. Hopefully thatís what it was and they knocked it out. Carl (Edwards) actually came and hung out with me once. I think itís all gone and can keep moving forward.î
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KESELOWSKIíS SEASON: Brad Keselowski hasnít enjoyed much about his Sprint Cup season so far this year. He is currently 23rd in points, 177 behind leader Carl Edwards.
However, he hasnít given up hope of a rebound.
ěThe Cup series has been up and down. Weíve shown a lot more speed on a consistent basis lately,î said Keselowski, who drives for Roger Penske. ěI feel a lot more comfortable with where weíre heading as a team. Itís just a matter of getting consistent execution, which is really tough.î
Keselowski won the STP 400 at Kansas on June 5, but notched a season-low finish of 36th at last weekís Richmond race.
ěI think when my team fires on all eight cylinders that weíre a top 10 team,î he said. ěWeíve just got to make an effort to fire on all eight cylinders and we havenít done that on a consistent basis but I see the potential to do it.
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PIT STOPS: Elliot Sadler, Austin Dillon, Mike Harmon and Jennifer Jo Cobb are attempting to drive in the truck and Nationwide races this weekend. . Despite starting, and winning, only two races, Kyle Busch is Nashvilleís all-time leader in laps led for the truck series with 271. Mike Skinner is second at 251. . The past three winners of Nashvilleís summer truck race, Todd Bodine (2010), Ron Hornaday Jr. (ë09) and Johnny Benson (ë08), have gone on to win the points title. . Sam Hornish Jr., the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner, is making his seventh Nationwide Series start of the season here.

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