Rowand gives racecar driver Kahne a few baseball pointers 

Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand played host Tuesday afternoon to NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne at AT&T Park.

Infineon Raceway and the Giants staged the event to promote two June events: NASCAR Night with the Giants on June 15 and the Toyota-Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma racetrack on June 20.

Rowand greeted Kahne, last year’s winner of the Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon, in front of home plate and presented him with a No. 9 Giants jersey. Kahne, in turn, presented Rowand with a No. 9 Ford Budweiser Team racing helmet. 

The gifts were set aside, and the two athletes proceeded to first base for a remote-control car race around the bases. The Giants’ leadoff man pulled what one would consider an upset and proved that the team’s hot start may just transcend baseball. The ballplayer piloted his orange and black car to a narrow victory over Kahne as the two cars reached the third-base finish line.
After the race, the two limbered up for the batting cage portion of the event by playing catch.

Rowand showed Kahne, a former little league shortstop, a bump on his wrist that resulted from a “95 mile per hour fastball off the wrist” during Monday night’s victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The driver listened attentively as Rowand played the role of hitting instructor.

“The most important thing is seeing the baseball,” Rowand advised. “The second most important thing is balance.”

Rowand learned that his guest was also a leadoff hitter — in suburban Seattle’s Little League — before opting for a steering wheel in his hands rather than a baseball bat.

Kahne, who turned 30 last Saturday, took some quality swings in the batting cage with one of Rowand’s game bats, another gift from the ballplayer.

“You swing better than hockey players, football players and basketball players,” Rowand said to Kahne as they exited the cage.

Asked if he’s ready to give automobile racing a whirl, Rowand smiled enthusiastically but reconsidered, “Don’t know about my contract status with that,” he responded.

After leading his guest on a tour of the stadium, the two new acquaintances exchanged numbers.

Kahne readily accepted Rowand’s invitation to attend the game that evening.

“I’ve watched so many games here on television,” Kahne said. “It’s great to be here.”

Meanwhile, Kahne was also in the news outside AT&T Park. Richard Petty Motorsports announced that Kahne said he’s leaving the team at the end of this season.

Kahne will reportedly drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, but still needs to iron out his plans for next season.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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