Hampton: Chad Ochocinco turned to NASCAR in his ongoing search for thrills away from the football field.
Ochocinco was strapped in for the ride as Jeff Burton drove his No. 31 car around Atlanta Motor Speedway on Thursday. Burton estimated he reached speeds of 150 to 160 miles per hour with Ochocinco.
That seemed to satisfy Ochocinco, who climbed out and said "That was nice. That was real nice."
Before the laps, Ochocinco said he made sure Burton was ready to push the Chevrolet.
"I asked him to let loose," Ochocinco said. "Please don`t waste my time. Step on the gas."
Ochocinco, the six-time Pro Bowl receiver, is making the most of his extended time away from football during the NFL lockout. He took the ride with Burton about six weeks after visiting the Professional Bull Riders circuit near Atlanta to ride a 1,500-pound bull for 1.5 seconds.
He also has had a soccer tryout with Sporting Kansas City of the MLS and last year was one of the final four contestants in Dancing With the Stars.
Next? Ochocinco said he plans to wrestle an alligator in Florida.
"If you`re not nervous, you`re not living," he said. "I`m willing to try everything once."
Burton said he didn`t try to scare his passenger on the high-speed turns around the speedway.
"You can`t scare him," Burton said. "The man has ridden a bull. He runs routes across the middle of the field. He wants to wrestle an alligator. How do you scare an athlete like that?"
Ochocinco`s future with the Cincinnati Bengals is uncertain after the Bengals drafted receiver A.J. Green in the first round. Ochocinco could be released or asked to take a pay cut after the lockout.
Ochocinco said he isn`t optimistic the lockout will end in time for the 2011 NFL season to start when scheduled.
"I think it`s coming back," he said. "I don`t think it`s starting on time ... no matter what you are reading. No way."
A smiling Ochocinco says he has interest in the sport as an owner — for a No. 85 car, of course — but not a driver because "I`d lose every damn day."
Ochocinco said he was "out of my element" as he tried to understand how Burton guided the car high and low through turns on the track.
"How the hell they are able to do that with 30 other drivers on the track is beyond me," he said, adding NASCAR "really is a sport and it does take skill."
Burton gave Ochocinco a brief description of the car and the racing team before the ride and continued the tutorial as the two sat in the car after the laps.
Asked Ochocinco: "Is it better to know the opponents or better to know the track?"
Said Burton: "Better to know the track."
Burton`s pit crew also gave Ochocinco a lesson on how to change tires. The student appeared surprise to learn he had to put more effort than he expected in pushing the jack handle down to lift the car.
Ochocinco wore an all-black firesuit which he noted was far too conservative for his taste.
If he had his own suit, he said "it would probably be all gold."