Redskins QB Robert Griffin III had an action-filled day as pace car driver at the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Photos courtesy AP, RIR, Daniel Sampson, Robert Griffin III
There was certainly a Redskins theme throughout Richmond International Raceway Saturday night.
Scanning the crowd, one could see many burgundy and gold No. 10 jerseys — fans there to support quarterback Robert Griffin III, who was selected to be the honorary pace car driver for the Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Race in Richmond, Va.
Back in March, lifelong Redskins fan Dale Earnhardt Jr. suggested on Twitter that Griffin III should attend the race, and over the past month, plans have been in the works to get the 2012 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year out on the race track.
He did just that on Saturday, while also taking time to visit kids at the Richmond YMCA's Healthy Kids Day and Walk.
Kerry Lim, an avid Redskins fan, was at Saturday's race, and said she enjoyed seeing the interaction between Earnhardt and Griffin III play out on social media.
"I think it's so funny how the whole thing happened organically on Twitter," she said. "I think it was like they were kind of going back and forth, and then it grew from there."
Lim wasn't the only fan excited to know that their superstar quarterback was going to be part of the race festivities.
"I'm glad that (he's) out there," said Spencer Morgans, who drove down from Fairfax, Va., to watch the race. "He's going to be driving the pace car, and it's going to be sick!"
Race fans had another reason to be invested in Saturday night's event — the head coach of the Redskins' three Super Bowl titles.
Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs has owned and operated his own NASCAR racing team, Joe Gibbs Racing, for years, and has added to his already-impressive trophy case with drivers like Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth — most of whom spent time with Griffin III before the race on Saturday.
"I definitely wanted to come out here and see him [Griffin III], but I would have been out here anyway to come out and see the Joe Gibbs boys and have a good time," said John Gibbons of Yorktown, Va.
Some fans in the crowd were supporting drivers who aren't under the Joe Gibbs Racing umbrella, but have a place in their heart for that organization because of their love for the Redskins.
When asked if she was a fan of the Joe Gibbs Racing team, Lim said, "I am at heart because he won me three Super Bowls, so I will love him forever. So yes, I support them."
As the cars whizzed by for yet another lap, Redskins fans in the stands also talked about their excitement for the upcoming football season — a passion they carry with them the entire year.
"It's a boring six months without it," Gibbons said about the offseason. "I know that things are coming together. We made a lot of good acquisitions this year and I'm looking forward to it."
Morgans was also pumped when asked about the upcoming season.
"Now that we have [Jay] Gruden up there, and you have what I like to call 'the fast five' with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, Alfred Morris, RG3, and Andre Roberts — we're good to go. I'm excited!"
Morgans may have forgotten about tight end Jordan Reed, who is coming into his sophomore season after finishing his rookie campaign setting franchise records by a rookie in catches (45) and receiving yards (499).
Redskins fans can only hope that opposing defenses forget about Reed, as well.
And based on the turnout of Redskins fans at the race, one can be sure that the turnout for training camp in Richmond in a few short months will be just as strong as it was in 2013.