- Associated Press - Sunday, March 3, 2013

AVONDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - Brian Baumgartner decided to keep it simple while making the most famous call in racing.

The actor best known as Kevin from “The Office” was the grand marshal for Sunday’s NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway and didn’t want to make the same mistake fellow thespian James Franco made while telling the drivers to start their engines at the Daytona 500 last weekend.

“I’ve been going over it in my head, listening to the controversy, reviewing other people online,” Baumgartner said. “I think I got it wired. Everyone just warns me, don’t say what they said last week.”

Franco took some criticism at Daytona when tweaked the race-starting phrase by singling out Danica Patrick: “Drivers and Danica, start your engines!”

Baumgartner acknowledged Patrick in more subtle way, screaming out “Lady and gentlemen, start your engines!”

A huge sports fan, Baumgartner didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for his first NASCAR race or his big call.

Busy shooting the final episodes of “The Office,” he didn’t arrive in Phoenix until Saturday night before driving to the track early Sunday.

“I love sports and super excited about it,” he said. “The culture is unbelievable and TV doesn’t even do it justice. You see people who are camping out and bringing their trailers and motorhomes, up on the hill down inside. It’s like people live here. People have been here a long time.”

Baumgartner’s nine-year run on “The Office” is coming to an end, but he’s already got a new show in the works with ABC. He can’t say much about it, other than it will be a contrast from Kevin Malone, the often-awkward accountant at Dunder Mifflin.

“The good thing was that I was playing a real specific character and it’s not really who I am,” said Baumgartner, who’s from Atlanta. “I’m excited about having the opportunity to do something that’s totally different and get to work on other things that show people a totally different side.”



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