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Roar of engines draw Detroit Lions to MIS

David Goricki
The Detroit News
From left, linebacker Antwione Williams, defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson, cornerback Ian Wells and defensive end Ziggy Ansah of the Detroit Lions tour the garage area before Sunday's race.

Brooklyn – Members of the Detroit Lions attended the FireKeepers Casino 400 Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway Sunday.

Defensive end Ziggy Ansah and rookie defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson were among the players touring the garage area, and they were joined by new general manager Bob Quinn. They stopped to talk with Rochester Hills native and 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski at his transporter in the morning before attending the prerace drivers’ meeting.

The players were expected to watch the race from the NASCAR suite.

Keselowski visited with them for several minutes, telling them they should expect a lot of action and that he had a fast car and that things could get interesting at the start of the race.

Ansah was enjoying his day.

“I like the atmosphere out here,” said Ansah. “Just hanging around the drivers, seeing the cars, it’s a great atmosphere, my first race, so it’s interesting and new to me. Brad’s a great guy. I think he’s enthusiastic and passionate about what he does. I’m excited to see what he’s got for us today.”

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As for the upcoming Lions season, Ansah said: “I’d rather not talk about football. I’d just as soon stick to the race, but I do think we have a pretty good shot this year.”

Ansah recently made the NFL Network’s list of the top 100 players, as voted on by the players, coming in at No. 43. He had 14.5 sacks to rank third in the NFL and first in the NFC last year.

Robinson played on Alabama’s national championship team.

“I’ve never been to a NASCAR race and I’ve always wanted to go, so I’m excited to see the race,” Robinson said.

Robinson has enjoyed his stay with the Lions so far.

“Our organization has been great; Bob Quinn’s a great guy and smart,” Robinson said. “It’s amazing how much they care about their players and everything is great. My goal is to go out and just do whatever I can to help the team.”

There’s more than a little NFL knowledge at NASCAR races with Joe Gibbs owning the four-car Toyota team of defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. The drivers have combined to win seven of the 14 races.

Gibbs, 75, was head coach of the Washington Redskins from 1981-92 and again from 2004-07, winning Super Bowls in ’82, ’87 and ’91, then guiding the Redskins to another playoff win in ’05.

The Lions have had one playoff win since defeating the Browns in the 1957 NFL championship game, beating the Cowboys on Jan. 5, 1992, before falling to Gibbs and the Redskins in the NFC championship game.

Detroit Lions cornerback Ian Wells and defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson pose for photos with the Sprint Cup FireKeepers Casino 400 pace car Sunday.