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.”