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Talladega On Minds Of Cup Drivers In Charlotte

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 9 2015
Jeff Gordon said . (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

Jeff Gordon said winning at Charlotte this weekend would provide so welcome relief. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

CONCORD, N.C. – With Talladega being in the Contender round in the Chase for the Championship, Carl Edwards said Thursday the segment that kicks off at Charlotte Motor Speedway feels more like a two-race rather than a three-race series.  

bugnotes“I think you have to look at it that way,” Edwards said during preparations for Saturday’s Bank of America 500. “I guess Brad Keselowski went and called the shot and won at Talladega, but man, I don’t know that anyone wants to have to be in that position. If you have a shot and you can see the win at one of these next two races, you’re going to see some really tough racing for that win because nobody wants to go to Talladega with uncertainty. There’s going to be a lot of nerves at Talladega.”

Jeff Gordon agreed.

“We know that if you get a victory here this weekend, the relief that you’re going to feel and to not have to go to Talladega and not have to worry about Kansas, is huge. It’s absolutely huge.

“I’ve been saying all year long that if we can make it to round three, I think our chances of making it to Homestead are actually very, very good. Not because we’ve been running spectacularly, it’s because Martinsville is on the schedule. Martinsville is a track I feel like we can always go to, no matter what, and have a shot at winning that race.”

Gordon earned his first Cup victory at the 1.5-mile Charlotte track in 1994 and he admitted that if he won Saturday night it would be “extremely emotional” for him.

“That could possibly be one of the biggest moments I’ve ever had at Charlotte if we do that,” Gordon said.

After earning the second starting position for Saturday’s Bank of America 500, Kyle Busch said it didn’t matter to him that Charlotte Motor Speedway officials had painted the restart box on the track.

“I don’t have an opinion as to whether it needs to be there or doesn’t need to be there,” Busch said. “I think it’s fine that they are. If other race tracks want to spend the money to paint the race tracks, so be it. It’s not that big of a deal for the rest of us. The guys that know how to do it right will do it right and the others that continue not to know how to do it right … should learn.”

Kevin Harvick will continue his sponsor partnership with Anheuser-Busch in 2016, but Budweiser will no longer appear on the car. Instead, Busch beer is returning to NASCAR.

The sponsorship, however, will be only for select races with the first being the Feb. 13 Sprint Unlimited at Daytona. Busch, Busch Light and other special-edition Busch paint schemes will be featured on the Stewart-Haas Chevrolet for 12 races. The other races on which the sponsor will be on the car will be determined after NASCAR releases the 2016 Sprint Cup schedule.

Harvick has represented Budweiser since 2011.

Ray Evernham, a former modified racer and IROC mechanic who earned 47 victories and three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships as Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, was given the prestigious Smokey Yunick Award Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Yunick, a legendary car owner and mechanic, instituted the award in 1997 to annually recognize an individual who rose from humble beginnings to make a major impact on the motorsports industry. Yunick passed away May 9, 2001 from Leukemia.

“Ray Evernham literally redefined the role of a NASCAR crew chief during his time with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Ray’s experience as a driver and his understanding of the sport’s rapidly advancing technology produced a unique dynamic, while his innovative work with the ‘Rainbow Warriors’ established a new standard for pit-road performance.

“Ray is a perfect match to the ideals upon which Smokey founded this award, and it is only appropriate that he will be recognized as we celebrate Jeff’s final race at Charlotte Motor Speedway where they enjoyed so much success.”

Shannon Koch, wife of NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Blake Koch, won Thursday’s Better Half Dash, a charity event benefitting Motor Racing Outreach and Speedway’s Childrens Charities

Koch led most of the race and won by only a second over Kaitlyn Sweet,  Kyle Larson’s girlfriend.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 9 2015
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