In his 15 years with the Spartans, Tom Izzo has done just about everything: four-time national coach of the year, six NCAA Final Four appearances and one basketball national championship. Now he can add pace car driver to his resume.
The Michigan State University men’s basketball coach will drive the pace car for the CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns Aug. 15.
“I am excited to be chosen to drive the pace car for the CARFAX 400. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before and I’m certain it will be quite a rush. More importantly, I’m honored to help support another great event in the state of Michigan,” Izzo said. “Michigan International Speedway is an asset to the state’s economy and exposure. I’m looking forward to being a small part of the action and interacting with some of the drivers. I’ve heard that a lot of them are college basketball fans, but I’m curious to see what it is that makes them the best of the best in their profession.”
Izzo has led MSU to six Final Four appearances in the last 12 seasons, becoming the only team to accomplish that feat between 1999 and 2010 and just the fourth school in college basketball history to do it in any 12-year span, including just the third since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Izzo also became just the second coach in NCAA history to reach four Final Fours in his first 10 years of coaching, joining Ohio State's Fred Taylor, and is just the third coach in NCAA history to appear in six Final Fours in a 12-year span, and just the second since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. His six Final Four appearances currently tie him for fifth all-time, third among active coaches and first all-time among Big Ten coaches, having most recently passed former Indiana head coach Bob Knight.
Through 15 seasons, Izzo is already one of the most successful coaches in Big Ten history. His .696 winning percentage in Big Ten games ranks second all-time among league coaches with at least 10 years of service, behind Knight (.700). In all games, Izzo ranks second (.714), behind Knight (.734). With 174 conference victories, Izzo ranks tied for seventh all-time.
As pace car driver, Izzo will pace the 43-car field in the official 2011 Ford Fiesta, a job usually held by NASCAR’s Brett Bodine. This will be Izzo’s first visit to MIS, and he will also take part in pre-race ceremonies and the drivers’ meeting prior to the race.
“It will be great to host Tom Izzo and his family at Michigan International Speedway and show him what all the excitement around NASCAR is about,” track President Roger Curtis said. “Izzo is a household name in Michigan and there are a lot of NCAA basketball fans in the NASCAR garage that I’m sure will be excited to meet him.”
Izzo joins Nick Lidstrom with the distinction of driving the pace car at MIS. The Red Wings captain paced the field during the June NASCAR weekend at MIS.
Nestled in the lush Irish Hills of Southeastern Michigan, Michigan International Speedway is the Great Escape, a venerable NASCAR national park where fans can get away and enjoy the very best in racing and camaraderie. It’s the love of racing and the thrill of a great time for race fans and drivers alike.
MIS tickets are on sale. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tickets for the CARFAX 400 start as low as $25. Visit MISpeedway.com or call the MIS ticket hotline at 800-354-1010 today.
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