Prerace News and Notes from Charlotte Motor Speedway

[media-credit name=”Barry Albert” align=”alignright” width=”217″][/media-credit]The Sprint Showdown will feature an all Ford front row. Leading the field to the green in Roush Fenway Racing Driver David Ragan in the No. 6 UPS machine. Ragan timed in with a lap of 28.172 seconds, which translates into 191.68 mph. Starting on the outside of the front row is Richard Petty Motorsports driver A.J. Allmendinger in the Best Buy famed No. 43. Rounding out the top 3 is Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Driver Paul Menard.

The All-Star Race will be led to the green flag by Kyle ‘Rowdy’ Busch in the M&M No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. His team turned in a cumulative effort and combined team time of 1:59:19 sec. Clint Bowyer claimed the outside pole position in his Richard Childress Racing BB&T Chevrolet No. 33. Starting third is Roush Fenway Racing Driver Greg Biffle in the No. 16 3M machine.

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Congratulation to Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 Fed Ex crew who won their second consecutive Pit Crew Challenge for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Tony Stewart celebrated his 40th birthday at the track on Friday, and while he admits to a few small pieces of cake. He does agree, there is no place else that he rather be. “I love what I do. I love being with the people that I am around and most of my friends are in the garage area, so I can’t think of a better place to spend my birthday.”

Special paint schemes of interest include Stewart’s No. 14 carrying the blue and orange colors for Burger King. Mark Martin is riding in the No. 25 Farmers Insurance Group (red). Juan Pablo Montoya is carrying the Energizer banner on the hood of his No. 42 machine in preparation for the ‘Light Up the Night’ program. Carl Edwards Aflac Ford will be decorated in new black and orange AFLAC colors. Kevin Harvick’s Budweiser machine is tearing it up in black, white and red. The famed Rainbow machine of Jeff Gordon has turned into a black and red Dupont machine for the All-Star event. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s AMP Energy Chevrolet features AMP Up the Music in a black and silver paint scheme. Meanwhile Bobby Labonte will race his No. 47 machine with a new sponsor: Reese Towpower.

“With today being NASCAR Day, we are proud of the money we raised, mostly going to children’s charities, and not to mention the monies just granted to the tornado victims throughout Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi,” Said Brian France when he addressed the media on Friday.

Monday night the NASCAR Hall of Fame will induct its second class. The class includes Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Lee Petty, Bud Moore and David Pearson.

Clint Bowyer shared his excitement about Kansas Speedway. “I just went back there for a media day, just kind of pumping up the upcoming race. The soccer field is done. I’m waiting for the casino. I know that’s going to be a big hit when they get that done. But I’m just looking forward to going back there. I’m really excited about the way our cars are running on these 1.5 mile tracks. The car was good here in practice and we’ve got a brand new bullet in store for Kansas, so I’m looking forward to it.”

It means a lot to Carl Edwards to be going to Kansas twice this year. “A win at Kansas in the Cup Series, you guys don’t know how much that would mean to me. I am excited we are running twice there. I thin our program is suited very well to those type of tracks.

Jeff Gordon will make his 17th appearance in the All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He is a three-time winner in this event. (1995, 1997, 2001)

Mark Martin appreciates the race fans that make sacrifices to be at the track. “We love the fan which is why we’re able to race on this level. And for most all of us, we came up through the ranks where there might be 1000 or 1500 fans in the stands on a given night of racing. When you start having 150,000 fans at a race, it’s pretty overwhelming for us to really comprehend how you can reach out and touch so many people. The fans are what drives this sport. We’re all grateful for their loyalty.”

Mark Martin has made 21 appearances in the All-Star event. He has the most appearances of any active driver. He will run the No. 25 HMS machine in this race, which signifies 25 years of racing for Papa Jo Hendrick.

On their approach to Saturday night’s racing, drivers are of the same mindset. Martin Truex Jr.’s approach “If you don’t win, it don’t matter. Win or go home.” For the Showdown, Brian Vickers is going “all out! We’ve got to just put it on the line. You either win or go home.” Vickers sat out of this event last season following a medical issue.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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For the past few years I have been shooting photos at Pocono International Raceway and Dover International. I have also had the opportunity to shoot the Nextel All Star Challenge, Brickyard 400, and at Nazareth Speedway. In 2008, I brought photos of the Hendrick Motorsports Museum, Dover Celebrity Billiards Tournament and Elliott Sadler's Barn Party to the SpeedwayMedia website. I am a graduate of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in the Mass Communications field. To begin my career, I worked at a small newspaper where I covered NASCAR and local dirt track racing. My passion for competitive motorsports developed into a Public Relations position with a local midget racing organization. I left the dirt track scene in 2004 with one goal. My career goal is to work full-time in the stock car racing field. Through SpeedwayMedia I have been able to begin fulfilling my dreams.

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