New England Patriots Wide Receiver Gunner Olszewski to Drive the Pace Car for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301

(Press Release from New Hampshire Motor Speedway)

New England Patriots wide receiver Gunner Olszewski will lead the NASCAR Cup Series field to green in the official Toyota Camry TRD pace car on Sunday, July 18 for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Vinny Orest/NHMS)

All-Pro punt returner to lead the field to green for the NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, July 18 at 3 p.m. at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

On Sunday, July 18, Gunner Olszewski, all-pro punt returner and wide receiver for the New England Patriots, will trade the pigskin for the keys to the official Toyota Camry TRD pace car as he leads 40 of NASCAR’s best to the green flag for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 – the 50th NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS).

“This is a dream come true,” said 24-year-old Olszewski. “My brother and I grew up watching NASCAR with our dad, and I’m still a huge fan today. I can’t believe I get to lead the field to the green flag at ‘The Magic Mile!’”

Born in Alvin, Texas, six-foot Olszewski will enter his third season with the New England Patriots this year. On Dec. 6, 2020, Olszewski scored his first NFL touchdown on a 70-yard punt return against the Chargers, which was the first punt return for a touchdown for New England since wide receiver Julian Edelman, who drove the official Toyota Camry pace car at NHMS in July 2014, returned a punt 84 yards vs. Denver on Nov. 2, 2014. Olszewski is the first player in Patriots history with two punt returns of at least 60 yards in a single game and the first NFL player to do so since Dec. 22, 2019. He finished the game with 145 punt return yards, the second-most ever in a single game by a Patriots player. He also hauled his first touchdown catch on a career-long 38-yard reception, added special teams tackles and was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

On Jan. 3, 2021, Olszewski returned three punts for 36 yards against the Jets. In doing so, he finished first in the NFL with a 17.3-yard punt return average, the highest in Patriots history, passing Edelman’s previous record of 15.5 set in 2012.

“Gunner has proven himself on the gridiron and now is his chance to show New England race fans what he’s got,” said David McGrath, executive vice president and general manager for New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “We’re excited to welcome him to ‘The Magic Mile’ and put him behind the wheel of the official Toyota Camry TRD pace car.”

Patriots safety Patrick Chung (July 2018), offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (July 2017), offensive tackle Matt Light (September 2016), linebacker Rob Ninkovich (July 2015) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (July 2014) have all served as pace car drivers, making Olszewski the sixth member of the New England Patriots to get behind the wheel of the official Toyota Camry pace car for a NCS race at NHMS. Other notable pace car drivers include Boston Bruins forward Chris Wagner (July 2019), Richard Rawlings of Discovery Channel’s “Fast N’ Loud” (September 2017), Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard (July 2016), Olympic triathlete Sarah True (September 2015) and Boston Bruins legend Brad Park (September 2014).

Race weekend action gets underway on Doubleheader Saturday, July 17 with practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT). The green flag drops for the Whelen 100 NWMT race at 12:45 p.m. followed by the Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at 3 p.m. The NCS Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 will run at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 18, marking the 50th NCS race at “The Magic Mile.”

For a NASCAR race weekend schedule, visit

*Schedule subject to change.


Log on to for tickets, schedules and more information on the weekend’s lineup of action-packed racing. Doubleheader Saturday tickets start at just $35 while kids 12 and under are free. Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 tickets start at just $59 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under.

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  1. Real Simple , Who’s Driving The Pace Car? Who Cares?

  2. Sidewinder says

    How much do you think it costs NHMS to have him drive the pace car????

  3. “How much do you think it costs NHMS to have him drive the pace car????”

    Probably less than you think. Mostly comfortable travel + hospitality for him and some guests plus a stipend. I’ve known a few pro athletes over the years, including a hockey player who won multiple Stanley Cups and lived in CT during the summer.

    Many players who aren’t household names have appearance clauses in their contract with the team. Teams send players to various events for PR attention. Note that they had to explain who he is in the press release.

    Endorsement contracts and high profile players are far different. When you get to be Tom Brady, you most likely get a right of refusal for appearances.

  4. Over the weekend they showed a couple Jim Garner movies on Grit TV, Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter. Suzanne Pleshette played a part in the second one and she was referred to as the Sidewinder for her feisty, unpredictable nature. I was thinking how I’d never seen sidewinder as a screen ID considering it’s pretty descriptive and what-a-ya-know here it is. Coincidence or do we have another Jim Garner fan here abouts.
    No need to explain who the Gunner is to this Pat’s fan. An undrafted free agent a couple years ago with zero chance to make the team from Texas via Bimidji College in Minnesota. Makes the team just barely based on decent talent but a motor that doesn’t stop running and gets injured. Second year beefs up, once again is on the bubble to make the team, once again makes it and finds his niche returning punts mainly because of his almost suicidal disregard for his own body. Now he’s not on the bubble but no lock to make the team as a receiver with over 90 guys in training camp fighting for only 53 roster spots.
    Why wouldn’t he want to do it for nothing if he had to and savor every part of it. It’s the NFL meaning Not for Long and he could be nobody in a couple years if he gets injured or someone better comes along. The experience, hob nobbing with the Nascar who’s who and celebrities and driving a pretty cool car fast followed by even more really fast cool cars.. He plays for New England and last I checked New Hampshire was still part of New England and while money is involved it’s not always strictly about the money.

  5. I’m A GIANTS Fan. So Again I Say WHO CARES. It’s Not Julian! Him I Know And RESPECT

  6. Who cares is a good question. Really in the history of racing has anyone not directly connected to the person themselves attended a race because of the pace car driver. I suppose if you got the last president to do it that could be another story but most celebrities not so much.
    I know like driving a race car at the very highest levels I respect anyone that can make any 53 man roster in the NFL. In Olszewski’s case he did it the hard way as an undrafted free agent and is doing one of the hardest jobs in football. NFL punters get elevation on the ball that’s hard to grasp on TV. The returner has to concentrate on catching the darn thing as a bunch of really tough hombres are running toward him hoping to take his head off. After hopefully catching the ball he’s expected to dodge the missiles headed his way and gain yards. Should he muff the catch he pretty much assures the opposing team will be scoring points soon after. The Gunner did it very well last year and is in fact a prototypical Julian Edelman type player composed mostly of guts. Anyone that respects a tough nut overcoming the odds and actually excelling would have to appreciate this guy even if they aren’t a Patriots or football fan.
    The reason prattling on about this guy is in part low morale from these weather grenades that are wrecking this part of the racing season. Most likely including the big open race tomorrow at Stafford. It’s too bad they can’t schedule races somewhere from 8 in the morning to 5 at night before all hell breaks loose and the storm cells move in.

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