Carl Edwards wins All-Star pole at Charlotte

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With the name of the late short track legend Dick Trickle above the door of his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Carl Edwards claimed the pole for tomorrow night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Edwards, who won the 2011 All-Star Race, topped the time sheets with a speed of 145.556 miles per hour and will be joined on the front row by Kurt Busch (144.068 mph) after Dale Earnhardt Jr. was knocked from P2 because of a five-second penalty for a loose lug nut.

The All-Star Race sees drivers qualify by running three laps and taking a mandatory four-tire pit stop; the driver with the lowest total time earns the pole. Adding to the uniqueness of the format is that this year, NASCAR removed all speed limits on pit road during the qualifying (they’ll be back for the race). Per USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, Edwards entered pit road off Turn 4 at 154 mph.

Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch will make up Row 2 of the All-Star Race, with Joey Logano (who had the fastest speed entering pit road at 158 mph) and Clint Bowyer in Row 3. Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, and Jeff Gordon rounded out the Top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for the Sprint Showdown preliminary event, which will see the top two finishers and the winner of a fan vote advance into the All-Star Race. Among the competitors in the Showdown will be Jamie McMurray, who will start on the front row alongside Truex, and Danica Patrick, who will start seventh.

Tomorrow’s All-Star Race will be split into five segments (four 20-lap segments and a fifth and final 10-lap segment). This year, the running order at the end of Segment 4 will be repositioned based on the average finish for the first four segments directly behind the caution car before pit road opens for a mandatory four-tire stop; how the cars come out of the pits will determine the starting order of the final segment.

The race winner will win a $1 million prize from Sprint. A second $1 million bonus — dubbed “Bruton’s Big Bonus” after Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Bruton Smith — is also in play if a driver can win all five segments of the event.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”