Is that Tom Cruise – or Cole Trickle – on ESPN2’s ‘NASCAR Now’ set?

The Friday, Feb. 6, edition of ESPN2’s “NASCAR Now” will include an interview with actor Tom Cruise, the sports network says.

Scheduled to run at 5 p.m. Eastern time, Cruise discusses his interest in stock car racing and recalls driving at Daytona during filming of the 1990 movie “Days of Thunder.” Cruise played Cole Trickle, a rookie looking for success in NASCAR’s premiere division. Robert Duval was the Trickle team’s crew chief in the film and Randy Quaid played the car owner. Nicole Kidman portrayed a doctor who was Trickle’s love interest.

The plot was loosely based – some fans and critics might say several rounds too loose – on some key NASCAR figures of the time: Cruise as Tim Richmond, Duval as Harry Hyde and Quaid as Rick Hendrick.

Then-NASCAR drivers Greg Sacks, Tommy Ellis, Bobby Hamilton and Hut Stricklin, among others, assisted in filming race scenes, while a number of other drivers, media and racing personalities of the time made appearances.

Cruise lays claim to a lifelong passion for racing and speaks with ESPN2 about racing and movies as the season-opening Daytona 500 nears. Some excerpts:

“You just see our history through time, our love affair with the automobile.

“Having that opportunity to drive those cars on the track, meet those drivers that I got to meet. Making movies, I love it because I get to enter into a world and you meet these people. And the generosity that I’ve been extended by these people – whether it’s NASCAR or “Jerry McGuire” – it’s a great life because I’m interested in life and in engaging in life, and to have those experiences I feel very privileged.”

(Source:, Feb. 05, 2009)