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Rice takes hot laps at Sonoma
Jerry Rice has won three Super Bowls and caught more passes than any wide receiver in NFL history, but nothing could have prepared him for what he experienced on Monday at Infineon Raceway.

Rice was treated to four laps around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course in the Sonoma Valley in the passenger seat of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stock car, supplied by the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

Rice, who will serve as Grand Marshal of this weekend’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, was in the passenger seat of the Burger King Toyota, with driver Shane MacMillan as his tour guide. The two reached speeds in excess of 100 mph over the twists and turns of Infineon Raceway. The stock car featured 700-horsepower.

“I had no idea it was going to be that fast,” said Rice, who will be attending his first NASCAR race this weekend. “My heart was pumping big-time. To feel the sheer power of these cars was just amazing, and it takes a pretty special athlete to go 110 laps around this place. I have so much respect for these NASCAR drivers and what they do.”

One of those drivers Rice hopes to meet is five-time Infineon Raceway champion Jeff Gordon, who is a native of nearby Vallejo.

“I’ve watched his career on television for a lot of years and I’ve always idolized him,” Rice said. “I’m really hoping I get a chance to meet him and spend some time with him this weekend. I also hear he’s a big San Francisco 49ers fan so that’s pretty cool, too.”

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