BROOKLYN, Mich. — Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia hopes to build a winning legacy in the Motor City.
Former Red Wing Darren McCarty already has one.
Before Sunday’s postponed FireKeepers Casino 400, Patricia, the grand marshal, and McCarty, the honorary pace car driver, spoke to reporters at Michigan International Speedway.
After nearly a three-hour rain delay, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race was rescheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at MIS. Team Penske’s Joey Logano will start from the pole.
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Earlier in the afternoon, Patricia expressed a passion for auto racing — pointing to his engineering background.
Later, McCarty was asked about his Game 4 goal to clinch the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals, an unforgettable moment in Detroit sports history.
Twenty-two years ago on June 7, McCarty got past Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Janne Niinimaa with a highlight-reel move, scoring with 6:58 left in the second period, giving the Red Wings a 2-0 lead.
The Flyers’ Eric Lindros scored late in the third period, making McCarty’s goal the clincher. The Red Wings swept Philadelphia, 4-0, claiming their first Stanley Cup title since 1955.
“I beat one guy one-on-one my whole career, and it was all timing,” McCarty recalled Sunday. “Twenty-two years later, you can take a Goodyear blimp-look at the whole situation and go, ‘Wow.’
“It’s more of an appreciation and something we did together. We keep the history, the culture, going on. I’m so proud. I get to do things like (drive the pace car) because of that goal.”
In a lighter moment, McCarty poked fun at himself for a lack of auto-racing knowledge.
“I’m one of those guys, not like Matt (Patricia) — no engineering degree — I know where the gas tank is and that’s about it,” he said, drawing a laugh from the assembled media. “I don’t want to go fast; pace-car speed is perfect for me. This is bucket-list.”
Sunday also was a special occasion for Patricia, who proudly accepted the role of grand marshal. When the race went green following an hour-plus weather delay, the Lions’ coach told drivers: “START YOUR ENGINES!”
Not long after, however, it started raining again and the FireKeepers Casino 400 was postponed.
“I fell in love with many aspects of (auto racing),” Patricia said. “With my engineering background, the aerodynamics and horsepower — all the engineering that goes behind a car — I find fascinating. It’s truly interesting.”
As for the football field, Patricia said the Lions’ minicamp last week was productive, and he’s looking forward to training camp starting in July.
“We’re excited, happy to be out there, get another week under our belt,” he said. “We’ll be back for training camp and we’ll be rolling.”
Published at Sun, 09 Jun 2019 23:10:59 +0000