Belk Bowl Notebook

Belk Bowl Notebook: Tuberville’s respect for motorsports drivers grows

CorrespondentDecember 24, 2013 

Belk Bowl Speedway

T. ORTEGA GAINES — ogaines@charlotteobserver.com Buy Photo

— Tommy Tuberville has always been a fan of fast cars and the people who drive them.

A long-time NASCAR fan, Tuberville has attended his share of races, met numerous drivers and even driven a pace car 110 mph at the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in 2004.

The first-year Cincinnati coach’s appreciation for the sport went a step higher after riding in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race car Tuesday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I’ve sat in the pits and talked to drivers,” said Tuberville, who was at the speedway – along with his Bearcats players, and the players and coaches from North Carolina – as part of the pregame activities surrounding Saturday’s Belk Bowl.

“I’ve been in the driver meetings, listening to all the rules. I’ve been through all the pregame stuff, and how they get ready. But there ain’t nothing like getting in that car.”

Tuberville, who took over as Cincinnati’s coach after last year’s Belk Bowl, went three laps in a Cup racer operated by the NASCAR Racing Experience.

While those cars didn’t go as fast as the actual vehicles, which can hit 200 mph on the backstretch at CMS, it was still fast enough for Tuberville.

“For those guys to do that for 200-250 laps or more, concentrating on not only what they’re doing but what’s going on to each side and behind them, it’s mind-boggling,” Tuberville said.

“I’ve always had an appreciation for what those guys did to begin with, but now … what they do is unbelievable.”

Field change: The heavy rain that soaked Charlotte and the surrounding region Sunday and Monday forced North Carolina to change its practice field for this weekend’s Belk Bowl.

The Tar Heels moved to Mallard Creek High – which has an artificial-turf field – for Tuesday’s practice after Charlotte Country Day’s fields were left unusable by nearly three inches of rain that fell between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

According to team spokesman Kevin Best, no decision has been reached on whether the Tar Heels will hold their remaining practices at Mallard Creek, return to Charlotte Country Day or move to another site.

Blue might sit: North Carolina tailback A.J. Blue, who has battled injuries off and on this season, might miss Saturday’s game because of a back injury.

Best said Blue – North Carolina’s No. 3 rusher with 298 yards despite missing two games – did not practice with the team last week, and he was not dressed out for the portion of Tuesday’s practice open to the media.

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