|What are your expectations for the All-Star Race?
“This is always a pretty cool race and it has good atmosphere around it. The crowd gets jacked up and, of course, there is nothing important on the line besides a million bucks. You just go out there and race as hard as you can. You get some practice runs in, get some good practice in and make sure your car feels good to you. And you try to work on your speed, of course, as best you can. Qualifying – that’s certainly going to be interesting again this year. I think, all in all, it’s a fun event. We always enjoy coming to Charlotte for these two weekends – with the All-Star Race one of the shortest and most fun events, and then the Coca-Cola 600 being the longest event. It’s kind of two different ends of the spectrum at Charlotte and we’re hoping to get another win in the Cup car with our M&M’S Hazelnut Spread Toyota at least once over the next two weekends there.”
What about the All-Star Race makes it so special for you?
“I think it’s just all about the money on the line. First off, we are excited to have the new M&M’S Hazelnut Spread on the car. They’ve been really well received by customers and I’m sure our fans will be looking forward to trying them, too. Well, this week it is sort of an exhibition race, if you will, because there’s a completely different rules package. There’s a completely different set of how the race is going to unfold and things like that, but you essentially still have your stages. You still have your same competitors, but you know with the differences in rules and things that we’ve got going this week, it’s certainly going to be a type of an exhibition. Other than that, it’s just about trying to go out there and win that million dollars and bring home a check or bring home a steering wheel, I guess.”
What driving style does it take to succeed in the All-Star Race?
“I think just being aggressive and knowing when to be aggressive and how to be aggressive is the biggest thing. It’s a race where you have to get to the front and you have to get out there and get yourself, more importantly, in clean air in order to keep yourself out front and on your own.”
What does it mean to be a part of the All-Star Race in this sport?
“It matters, especially with who your fellow competitors are. For us, being an all-star and being in the All-Star Race is one of the most fun things we get to do each year. I’d say the Clash is another one of those and, with the All-Star Race, they are certainly two fun races where we get a chance to go after just a win and bring home the checkers or end up on the wrecker. It’s an exciting night and there’s a lot of energy there. It gives you the opportunity to run that many qualifying laps in a row. That’s all you’re doing – you’re giving it all you’ve got every single lap. You’re definitely up on top of the wheel and your guys do the best they can to give you a good car and to make it as lightweight as possible and throw away the air conditioning unit and keep all the front fans away from you – no radiator fan. All that stuff, just try to lighten that baby up and make it fast.”
What drivers do you think are best suited for the All-Star Race?
“You look at the guys who are really good, who qualify well. I think qualifying well can always lend itself to racing the All-Star Race well because you’re running however many laps that segment is, you’re running that many qualifying laps in a row. You’re just trying to get the most you can out of your car there. It’s sometimes hard to pass because the guy in front of you is trying to get the most out of his car and so are you, so you just can’t get there.”