Saturday afternoon, NASCAR drivers and legends alike took part in the final race in the virtual Pro Invitational Series. The 2020 Cup Series season will resume on May 17, and the competitors will leave their "iRacing" rigs and don their firesuits once again. NASCAR celebrated this final race by bringing in country star Chase Rice to perform a pre-race concert.
The singer sat down with NASCAR host Alex Weaver to discuss his career and play some songs. He also talked about his upcoming project, "The Album Pt. 2." Rice performed three songs during the segment including "Eyes On You," "Lonely If You Are" and "Ready, Set, Roll." When it came to picking a winner, Rice felt that "frosted tips" Dale Earnhardt Jr. would narrowly defeat "mustached" Jeff Gordon in the final Pro Invitational Series race.
While Rice is best known for his music, he actually has a connection to stock car racing. He previously spent time as a member of Jimmie Johnson's pit crew. Rice was part of the championship-winning team from the 2009 Cup Series season, which was the fourth of Johnson's five consecutive titles.
"He's the best to ever do it," Rice said about Johnson. "You could flip a coin [between] him, [Dale] Earnhardt, [Richard] Petty, who knows. But it was unbelievable. It was tough. I will say, one of the first races I did ... we were kinda training, getting into it. The car comes in, do the right side, stop, stud it. I was a carrier at that point. I was a jackman and a carrier throughout my career.
"Studding the right side, come around, [crew chief] Chad [Knaus] was just standing there, arms crossed, watching," Rice continued. "I don't know what track it was. I go in to insert the left rear [tire], and I just completely drop it on the changer."
That practice experience didn't proceed smoothly, but Rice and the pit crew found considerable success throughout the 2009 Cup Series season. Johnson won seven races during the year and finished in the top-five 15 times. He secured the championship win and facilitated Rice receiving a ring.
The country singer was part of two title teams but ultimately left NASCAR to release his first album, "Friday Nights & Sunday Mornings," in 2010. He followed that project up with a six-song EP, "Country as Me," and another full-length, "Dirt Road Communion," in 2012. Rice has remained a mainstay in country music since leaving NASCAR, but he is still providing a soundtrack for the Pro Invitational Series.