With the upcoming Sprint Showdown looming, Team Chevy is looking to improve upon it’s sterling record in the annual All-Star event. A slew of Team Chevy participants were willing to share their thoughts about the upcoming event, and their chances in it.
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET:
“You can’t run the All-Star like any other race. With the format changes, your strategy is never the same as last year. Winning a segment is going to mean a lot this year. No one is looking for just a good finish. We all want the win.”
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 BASS PRO SHOPS CHEVROLET:
“It’s an event for the fans and that’s something that’s very important to us, but there’s a lot of bragging rights, too. Charlotte is an area where 95 percent of the Cup teams are based, so when you go there, you want to run well. You’re able to have guys come from the shop that don’t get a chance to travel. They don’t get a chance to come to the racetrack very often and see the fruits of their labor, so for them to come to the All-Star Race and see their cars run, especially when you have a good night, it really pumps up your organization. You do it for your fans, but at the same time, you do it for your organization and your team. That’s why the All-Star Race is important.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET:
“Every week we’re racing and pushing as hard as we can to try to win the race or get the best finish possible. It doesn’t matter if points are on the line or not. I don’t approach the All-Star race any different than I do any other race. However, it is a win-or-nothing kind of situation. If we don’t win, then we don’t lose any points – so you can kind of leave (the track) with a smile on your face.
“There are so many challenges this track brings because it’s so fast and because of the multiple grooves. It’s a fast race track with a pretty hard tire, so it’s just trying to get the balance of the car right. Last time we were here, we were good on three-quarters of the track but struggled getting into turn one. It really hurt us from being more competitive.
“We’ve won all three segments, and battled Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt for the victory, but we’ve also run out of gas while leading on the last lap. We’ve also won in a back-up car after wrecking the primary in turn one on lap one. They dropped the green (flag) that night and it just started pouring, and several of us wrecked. But NASCAR allowed us all to pull out our backup car. We knew we had a chance (to win) as long as we had a race car. The All-Star Race is always pretty wild and crazy.”
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/CERTAINTEED CHEVROLET:
“There isn’t really one specific memory that jumps out, but the All-Star Race is always a really fun one to watch. In the last few years the format has been different. They continue to change it up and keep it exciting. This will be our first one and we’re looking forward to it. It was pretty exciting to know that we qualified for both that and the (Budweiser) Shootout at Daytona (International Speedway). It’s a neat deal to be a part of and we’re excited. We’re definitely going to try to win but, at the same time, use it as a test session in order to learn some things we can apply to the following weekend’s race, the Coca-Cola 600. We’ve run in the Sprint Showdown the last several years and you can always learn something for the next week.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER/RHEEM CHEVROLET:
“It is. Our All-Star race is a lot different than other sports. With the All-Star race they put a million dollars in front of you. Anytime they put that much money in front of anybody it’s going to cause things to rise to another level. Take the points away from that and you really have some unique scenarios that come up. It’s always fun when you know there is really nothing on the line but to win. If you do, then usually there is a big check waiting for you at the end so that gives you some bragging rights and a lot of money.
“Charlotte is just one of those places that you have to have everything going well. Especially the All-Star event it seems like everybody brings their latest and greatest stuff to see if it will make it through the inspection line and not blow up. That means you have to have your best stuff there and you have to put a night together with all the short segments this year and the bonuses for trying to win the segments you’ve got to try to make something happen. It’s just a unique race.
“Well, you want to win one of the segments to try to have the track position. If you can do that it will take some pressure off that last pit stop. If you don’t win one of those segments the best you’re going to do is fifth going into the last segment. It’s a unique format. I think you could spin it 100 different ways and it would still be the All-Star race.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO 39 TORNADOS CHEVROLET:
“When push comes to shove in the All-Star race on Saturday night, you did what you have to do to win. This race is about the glory and the big prize. There are no points on the line, so the way I see it – you either want to win it or bring back just the steering wheel in your hand knowing that you did everything that you could to be the best of the best that night. I think one of the coolest things about the All-Star Race for us is that it is a short race. It’s kind of like the races we all grew up racing – you have to make your move and you have to make it now kind of thing. It’s a unique layout, and to me that’s what makes it fun. You have the different segments and the rules, and the strategy changes each and every lap. The All-Star Race is huge in our eyes because it’s the All-Star Race, and it’s in our backyard, everybody’s backyard. It’s all about bragging rights. We’re all about beating each other at our own game at our home field, I guess you would say. It’s definitely a challenging race, but it’s a lot of fun. Everyone wants to come out on top not just for the $1 million, but also for the bragging rights. ”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S PATRIOTIC CHEVROLET:
“It is a different type of pressure. There is no doubt that the Shootout and the All-Star Race are more relaxed. Sure we want to win. It is just who and what we all are. Without having the points and the structure of a normal weekend, it does make it a lot more fun. With Hendrick Motorsports being down the street, this race carries a ton of weight. It is just great for the company. Rick (Hendrick) has a spot in his heart for this race. He likes to come around and poke us all to get us fired up for that event. I think of it more in that way.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION SERVICES INC. CHEVROLET:
“The All-Star race is an amazing event where you don’t have to think about points you just think about the trophy and the cash prize at the end of the night. With Sprint jumping in years ago and offering up a million bucks for the winner everybody gets excited about it. It used to be a race where if you weren’t a top team you would treat it like a test session to get ready for the big 600-miler the week after. Now when you add in the cash prize with the prestige that goes into winning the All-Race and the history that the event has generated over the years you bring your best stuff and you want to be on your game and make sure you’re on top getting that big trophy at the end of the nights. It’s a big night to get pumped up and have that All-Star atmosphere.”
REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET:
“The Sprint All Star Race has it all — it’s not only fun and thrilling for the fans, but it’s a prestigious event that I am truly honored to be part of. Sprint is an incredible sponsor and all the drivers are very much appreciative of the extra miles they put in during this week, including Thursday night’s Pit Crew Challenge. We feel our Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet has the potential to something special this weekend, and also get us prepared for the following week’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. There’s plenty of strategy that goes into the All Star Race, and every car in the field will have a shot at the victory. It’s a special weekend that gives us a break from racing for points.”
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