SPARTA, Ky. - University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari said he's quite anxious to get behind the wheel of the Kentucky Speedway's Ford Fusion pace car for tonight's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts.

He just needs Mother Nature to cooperate a little bit.

As raindrops fell over the speedway, Calipari joined Papa John's Pizza founder, owner and CEO John Schnatter and Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger while Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jerry Abrahamson issued an official proclamation declaring June 24-29 as NASCAR Week in the commonwealth.

Calipari originally thought he'd drive the Ford Fusion at speeds of 100 mph or greater.

"I took lots of lessons. I had to come early. Kurt Busch took me around first, and he went waaay too fast! Then, I got the instructions, and they told me how fast I had to go, how to do it and what to do, and I was good. It won't be a problem because I'm only going 45 mph. At 45 mph, I can do that. I think. I shouldn't say that, but I think I'll be okay," Calipari said.

The coach who brought the state's beloved Wildcats their eighth NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship two seasons ago,  will lead the field of 43 drivers during parade laps and ultimately to the start of Kentucky Speedway third NSCS event.

He posed with the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts trophy, laughed and joked it's one trophy he won't be winning.

- KYS -