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.”

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.