Thursday, September 21, 2006
Dallas Cowboys Go Through Mini-Camp With Two-Time Cup Champion Terry Labonte
FORT WORTH, Texas — What do Dallas Cowboys players do on their off day following a Sunday night win over the Washington Redskins? They go to Texas Motor Speedway to get driving tips from two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Terry Labonte.
Four Dallas Cowboys players received hands-on instruction from Labonte on racing the Team Texas High Performance Driving School cars around the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday evening. Labonte, a life-long Cowboys fan, showed the driving line to Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe, cornerback Terence Newman, center Andre Gurode and linebacker, Ryan Fowler. In addition, PGA Tour player Ben Crane participated in the session.
“The Cowboys are no strangers to speed and quickness,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “They are part of that every Sunday in the NFL. But I think the players enjoy coming out here and experiencing what NASCAR is all about from a driver’s perspective.”
The players were tutored by driving instructors in the classroom before climbing into the cars for laps around “The Great American Speedway!”
“My hands aren’t generally shaking when I am on the field, but I have adrenaline flowing right now,” Bledsoe said after stepping out of his car following his laps. “To think about what these guys do when they have all those other cars out there when they are actually racing each other is pretty crazy. The track gets pretty small when you are going that fast.
“I like going fast. It is my one time to come out here and be faster than Terence Newman. I don’t know how fast we were going, but we were over the speed limit. I do know that.”
Newman, who spends his weekends covering some of the fastest receivers in the NFL, enjoyed the rush of speed behind the wheel.
“I love speed and love to go fast,” Newman said. “But this is something totally different from what I am used to doing; but I sure could get used to it. I had it floored a couple of times around the track.”
At 6-4, 312 pounds, Gurode takes on some of the biggest defensive linemen in the trenches every week. Sliding through the window to the driver’s seat of his race car was his first challenge Tuesday night.
“It was a great experience, but the hardest part was getting in (the car),” Gurode said. “But once I got in and situated, it was pretty cool. Just the power of the engine was amazing. I will take this as experience, and next year I think I will be ready for them [Bledsoe and Newman]. I have a Cadillac SDS, but after driving this car I need something else – something with more horsepower.”
And what words of wisdom did Labonte have for the Cowboys before they climbed into the cars?
“The bleachers are always on the right side,” Labonte joked. “If at any point during your lap they are on your left side, you need to put your brake on and shut your eyes. But be careful out there, I don’t want Coach Parcells calling me.”