ST LOUIS (LALATE) – Steve Phelps’ attempt to be the NASCAR Undercover Boss tonight on CBS almost fell apart due to one person: Roger Penske. Steve Phelps was NASCAR’s choice to be the Uncover Boss for CBS because putting NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France or president Mike Helton on the track would never have worked. The idea of chosing NASCAR’s chief marketing officer as the Undercover Boss seemed full-proof for CBS.
That is until Roger Penske almost blew it.
When Roger Penske walked up to Kevin Thomas from Vermont, Penske sensed there was something wrong. Thomas is a water purification business owner who had won a TV competition to get a temporary NASCAR gig for the week. At least that was Phelps’ cover.
But when Nationwide Series official Bill Whelan told “Kevin Thomas” he needed to meet Roger Penske, Phelps (still keeping his cool) said he wasn’t interested. Of course, who wouldn’t want to meet Roger Penske? It seemed like any water purification business owner’s dream to meet Roger Penske.
That is, unless, you happen to already know Penske. Phelps stalled and told Whelan “no thanks”. Whelan didn’t let up. So Phelps ties his shoes. Once. Twice. It didn’t work; so then came the introduction. As NASCAR reports, as soon as Penske saw “Kevin Thomas”, “Penske’s eyebrows bowed, a quizzical expression somewhere between Linda Evangelista and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.” Penske said “You look awfully familiar, ‘Kevin’.” “Oh, I get that a lot,” Phelps responded back.
And that wasn’t the only close call for Phelps. As NASCAR notes, while Phelps was working assistant tire specialist for the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota, Cal Wells asks “Why is Steve Phelps dressed up in Aaron’s?!”