SI: Are you contractually obligated to appear in every Hollywood film about NASCAR?
Reilly: I'm not, actually [laughs]. But this is definitely a shout-out to Days of Thunder. I tried to get them to have someone give a monologue to a car in Talladega Nights [as Robert Duvall did in Days] because that was one of the most ridiculous scenes. But we just couldn't fit it in with all the other hilarity.
SI: Any nods to Tom Cruise in this film?
Reilly: When Ricky Bobby [Will Ferrell's character] thinks he's on fire, he calls out to Tom Cruise to help put the fire out.
SI: You filmed part of Nights at last year's UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. What's the craziest thing you saw at that track?
Reilly: The most outrageous thing I heard about was from some of the Teamsters guys on our crew who had to be there with the trucks all night. They took a golf cart, mounted a stripper pole on it and drove around the infield, asking girls if they wanted to volunteer. I didn't witness it [laughs]. I just saw the golf cart the next day and the sheepish look on the Teamsters.
SI: You've said you don't believe in corporate sponsorship. How do you reconcile that with being sponsored by Julio's Thongs for Men and Laughing Clown Malt Liquor in Nights?
Reilly: I'm happy to be sponsored by a goofy idea. But corporate sponsorship or being a spokesmodel is not what I got into acting for. I still call it Comiskey Park. I can't get excited about saying I'm going down to U.S. Cellular.
SI: What's the better movie experience: being married to Jennifer Aniston, Julianne Moore and Renee Zellweger, or being best friend to Tom Cruise and Will Ferrell?
Reilly: Well, I didn't get to sleep with any of those women, and all of those marriages were broken in one way or another. So I'll take the undying friendship and special male love of Cole Trickle and Ricky Bobby. --Richard Deitsch
• For more from John C. Reilly, go to SI.com/scorecard.