Big money on the line tonight for NASCAR All-Star Race

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When Marcus Smith unveiled a second $1 million bonus for the driver that can win all five segments of tonight’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, he passed along a notion from his father.

“My dad, [Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO] Bruton Smith, says that three things motivate people – love, fear and money,” he said back in February.

Rest assured, the drivers in tonight’s exhibition event at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be motivated with $2 million up for grabs; the race winner will earn a $1 million prize from Sprint regardless of how many segments he or she may win. And with no points on the line, drivers will be fully focused on a furious dash for the cash.

“If I were a sports bookie, I’d put a 300-to-1 on it,” Kyle Busch (pictured) told NASCAR.com’s George Winkler. “You have to run each segment as hard as you can. You have to stay out front to keep your average finish as high as you can. There’s going to be a lot of things playing out in between the segments with pit stops, tire strategy…It’s certainly going to make it a lot more fun, not only for the fans but for the crew chiefs as well.”

Money isn’t the only reason why drivers may feel an increased need to go all-out from the drop of the green flag. As mentioned yesterday, the running order at the end of the fourth segment will be reshuffled based on drivers’ average finish over the first four segments. A four-tire stop will then take place and the race off pit road will determine the starting order for the final, 10-lap segment that will settle the race.

Busch has never needed an excuse to go fast and considering the nature of tonight’s race, he would appear to be a threat to walk away with a good bit of money. His strategy is simple enough.

“Stay up front, win every segment and get two million bucks and go home,” he said. “Sounds easy — we’ll see what happens.”

Simon Pagenaud has words with Gabby Chaves after Honda Indy GP of Alabama

Photos: IndyCar
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The rain didn’t stop following the conclusion of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, and neither did the jousting between drivers.

An angry Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud confronted Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves after the race, complaining that Chaves would not let Pagenaud get past him in the closing laps.

Instead of ending up with a hoped-for Top 5, Pagenaud wound up with a ninth-place finish. Chaves, meanwhile, finished 17th, two laps down.

The confrontation turned into a battle of words and profanity between the two drivers, as captured on Twitter by AutoWeek’s Matt Weaver.

Afterward – and after their tempers cooled down somewhat – both Pagenaud and Chaves gave their sides of the confrontation to NBCSN.

Gabby Chaves

First, here’s Pagenaud’s take on things:

“We had a really good race going,” Pagenaud said. “I think we potentially could have been top 5. I was really frustrated with Gabby. He was two laps down and I was stuck behind him, which gave an opportunity to (Scott) Dixon as I was trying to do everything I could to make it happen.

“It’s a real shame because when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. You’ll have better days later, but you want to have everybody on your side when you have a good day. At the moment, he doesn’t have me on his side, let me tell you. It’s a real shame.”

When asked what exactly he said to Chaves, Pagenaud demurred.

“Driver’s stuff,” he said with a slight smile. “We’ve all been there. I’ve been in his position. My side, I played it smart. It is what it is.

“I can’t comment for him. You can ask him the question. I’m not going to make a deal about it, it’s just a shame it ruined my race. We’ll come back stronger. It’s Indy soon, so that’ll put a smile on my face.”

NBCSN then caught up with Chaves for his side of the story.

 

“It’s a tough situation, we had to restart (the rain-delayed race) a lap down,” Chaves said. “Our whole strategy depends on trying to get a yellow and holding our position. Some guys think that the track belongs only to them, they’re the only guys on-track.

“Everyone else who was faster at that point – we were only one lap down to the leader, so we’re still on our strategy and don’t know what’s going to happen – as soon as they got right up next to me on the lead lap, I let them go.

“Simon was the only one who couldn’t drive up to me. I understand his frustration, but he’s the one who has to save fuel to make his strategy work, that’s not our fault, right?”

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