By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
CONCORD, N.C.-Kyle Busch calls it a 300-to-1 shot.
Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, doesn't discount the prospect of winning Bruton's Big Bonus nearly that much.
Track owner Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., has offered a $1-million bonus to any driver who can win all five segments of Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That's in addition to the $1-million top prize already on the line for the winner of the non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
"I think there's a chance, (but) I think it's a long shot," said Johnson, who won last year's exhibition event. "With the competition that exists in the All-Star Race, it's going to be a long shot, but it's worth it, and it will bring some excitement.
"If somebody does ring that bell, it will be a hell of a party."
Busch facetiously took credit for a rule change that should motivate drivers to race hard in each of the four 20-lap segments leading up to the final 10-lap shootout. Last year, Johnson won the first segment and, knowing he would be first to pit road before the final 10 laps, ran in the back during segments 2, 3 and 4.
This year, drivers will enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire stop based on best average finish in the four segments combined.
"I don't know if you have my transcript from last year, but I said the rules were stupid and they need to change it to this year's rules, so I take full credit and responsibility for them changing the rules," Busch said. "I think the rules are right this year.
"(This year), you have to run each segment as hard as you can. You have to stay up front to keep your average finish as good as you can. There's going to be a lot of things playing out in between the segments with pit stops, tire strategy--do you take two (tires), do you stay out, do you come in and get four if there's a yellow in the middle of a segment? Do you pit then and get yourself ready for the next segment?
"There's a whole bunch of different things that could certainly lie in the race, and I think it's going to make it a lot more fun not only for the fans, but for the crew chiefs as well. I say fun, but I'm sure they will have some headaches after it, too. I think this year is going to be a heck of a lot better."
Though the prospect of winning Bruton's Big Bonus will enliven the action, too, Busch thinks it will be extremely difficult for one driver to win all five segments.
"Realistically, winning all the segments, if I were a sports bookie, I would put a 300-to-1 on it."
NO PAYBACK FOR KAHNE?
Characterizing last week's on-track fracas with Kasey Kahne at Darlington as a racing incident, Kyle Busch says he doesn't expect Kahne to exact revenge.
That doesn't mean Busch will be surprised if payback comes his way.
Busch and Kahne we racing hard side by side after a restart with 30 laps left in last Saturday's Bojangles' Southern 500. Neither driver gave ground as the cars entered Turn 1 at breakneck pace, battling for the lead. Busch's Toyota, which was on the inside, slipped up toward Kahne's Chevrolet.
Though there was no apparent contact between the cars, Kahne slapped the outside wall and lost his chance to win the race. Busch later cut a tire and faded to sixth at the finish.
That was the third incident of the year involving Kahne and Busch, the first two coming at Daytona and Talladega. Kahne got the short end of the stick on all three occasions.
"The first two instances were a mistake, just misjudgment," Busch said Friday before Sprint All-Star Race practice at Charlotte. "Kasey admitted it, he had to get on the brakes in Daytona and checked up a little bit and I ran over him... (Talladega) I just misjudged. I wanted to pull out and thought last second that I was going to stay in line and push Kasey. I turned him sideways when I was coming back in line.
"Last week was just hard racing. You're in the last (30) laps, and you're past the last pit stop, and it's all about track position. For us, we were racing as hard as we could. He pulled a huge slide job on me in Turn 3, and I got back to his inside, and I had been running down there on the flat all night and had been passing lapped cars down there, and some of my restarts were even that low on the race track.
"I didn't think there was going to be a problem, and when I got down there I just got tight and pushed up a little bit. Whether or not we touched, I think that's insignificant because I'm not racing to wreck Kasey Kahne, but Kasey Kahne did crash because of me so it's a part of hard racing at the end of the race. I hate that it keeps being the same guy, but if it were a Matt Kenseth on a Tony Stewart we probably wouldn't see a story."
Busch has his fingers crossed that Kahne won't take out his frustration on the track.
"I just told Kasey, I said, 'Just don't make it hurt too bad,'" Busch joked. "I don't think Kasey is that kind of guy, but if it happens, I'll understand."
REMEMBERING DICK TRICKLE
Mark Martin says he and other Sprint Cup stars likely wouldn't have achieved the success they have, if it weren't for the guidance of Dick Trickle.
Trickle died Thursday at age 71 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but Martin prefers to remember the talented, ebullient driver who was a prolific winner at short tracks in the Midwest before embarking on his NASCAR career.
"Dick made himself a mentor to many--Rusty (Wallace), myself, Alan Kulwicki," Martin said Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We wouldn't have been the racers that we were when we got here had we not come under his influence. Of course, you have to change; after a while you have to adapt to circumstances as well. I was proud of who we were and the racers we were.
"For the influence that he had on us and the etiquette and the way he raced--he raced us real hard on the race track, but off the race track, he was very free with parts or advice--he gave freely. Really, really good dude. I'm confused and brokenhearted about what happened."