RANDY MOSS doesn't come off as a guy who'd get wide-eyed about meeting anyone, but last Thursday he found himself giddy at the prospect of hanging with Dale Earnhardt Jr. The Patriots' wide receiver—a West Virginia native who describes himself as a country boy—met Junior at Daytona International Speedway. "I felt so excited," Moss said. "Like a kid." He meant it. Moss, 31, has a serious affinity for NASCAR, which became apparent later in the day when he announced he was buying a 50% stake in Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, a team in the Craftsman Truck Series.
Plenty of athletes have gotten into NASCAR in recent years—since the late 1990s, Julius Erving, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and former NFL stars Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Tim Brown and Joe Washington all have launched teams. But none of them is still around. Moss insists he'll be different, because unlike most of those jocks, he's starting at the bottom, on the third rung of the NASCAR ladder. "I've done my research," Moss says. "Most of those guys started out at the top, and I am a true believer in the theory that you have to crawl before you walk."
Moss's first order of business was to change the name of the team to Randy Moss Motorsports and change the number of the truck from 46 to 81, his jersey number. (The truck will make its debut on July 19 at Kentucky Speedway, with Willie Allen, the 2007 truck series rookie of the year, behind the wheel.) Now it gets trickier for Moss: He's got to find a sponsor, which isn't easy even when the economy is healthy. Operating a truck team costs about $6 million or $7 million a year, but Moss insists that if a sponsor doesn't come along, he'll dip into his own pockets. Says Moss, "I am ready to keep this thing going myself."
The Pop Culture Grid
How do sports stars fit in?
Amy Winehouse should really ...
Phrase I overuse the most
Favorite movie villain
Most it costs to fill up my tank
Weirdest thing a coach ever said to me
CARL CRAWFORD Rays LF
"Man." It's a Texas thing
The Joker (top)
"You're going to be a millionaire"
PAULA CREAMER LPGA
Take some time off
"You need to take some time off"
GAVIN FLOYD White Sox P
Nothing. And then he left the mound
JIA PERKINS Sky G
Go to rehab
"You'll be shooting fadeaways off your toe"
2:43:33 Time, in hours, minutes and seconds, it took Hans Florine, 44, and Yuji Hirayama, 39, to scale the 2,900-foot Nose route on El Capitan, a granite formation in Yosemite National Park, on July 2—a record.
47 Days it took to complete the first ascent of El Capitan, in 1958.
117,650 Doughnuts given away by Tampa-area Dunkin' Donuts franchises last season in a promotion that entitled customers to a free one the day after each Rays win.
116,375 Doughnuts given away this season through June 30; the Rays, who won 66 games in 2007, won 55 of their first 88 this year.
11 Years since the Red Sox and Yankees had played a series after Memorial Day with neither team in first place, before last weekend.
34 Saves by Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez through Sunday, tying John Smoltz's record for the most before the All-Star break, set in 2003.
17 Losses by the expansion Atlanta Dream before they beat the Chicago Sky last Saturday, ending the longest winless streak to start a season in WNBA history.
GEOFF BURKE/GETTY IMAGES FOR NASCAR (DOLLAR AND MOSS)
KEEP ON TRUCKIN' Moss says he and partner David Dollar (left) hope to crack into "Cup Series racing one day and do something big."
ANDREW MILLS/THE STAR-LEDGER/US PRESSWIRE (MOSS)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES/AP (LEDGER)
TOM DIPACE (CRAWFORD)
DAVID WALBERG (CREAMER)
M. SPENCER GREEN/AP (FLOYD)
GARY DINEEN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (PERKINS)
RICK BOWMER/AP (GAS PUMP)
DAVE HOGAN/GETTY IMAGES (WINEHOUSE)
SONY PICTURES CLASSICS/PHOTOFEST (DR. OCTOPUS)