TALLADEGA, Ala. - AJ McCarron arrived at Talladega Superspeedway wearing a hoodie that looked like a four-year-old's art project. And he pulled it off, because this is Alabama and this is AJ McCarron. If this were a video game, he'd be in God Mode.
McCarron, the two-time national championship-winning Crimson Tide quarterback, is at Talladega to drive the pace car at the Aaron's 499, which is about as Alabama as you can possibly get. He drove a special crimson Ford Mustang GT, which is probably not a violation but surely some Auburn fans will look for one.
Before the race, McCarron spoke to the media, and let the world in on the advice coach Nick Saban gave him: "Whatever you do, don't wreck the car." Which is probably the same advice Saban gave McCarron before the National Championship games, too.
McCarron added that he was more than ready: "Like Ricky Bobby said, I'm ready to go fast." And he noted that he's got more of a racing background than just the usual helicopter-in celebrity; racing runs deep in McCarron's family.
"I've been here the past two years in a row with my grandfather," McCarron told SPEED. "He parks his motor home in the infield." He further allowed that he might get involved with some short-track racing when his playing days are done.
And yes, Katherine Webb is in attendance at Talladega. She and McCarron dined on Jim N' Nick's barbecue outside the media center as several fans walking nearby literally stopped and did double-takes. Alabama royalty, y'all.