NASCAR All-Star Race announcement press conference, part 1

Transcript: NASCAR Sprint All Star Race Announcement March 17, 2010 An interview with JOHN ROBERTS - Moderator, SPEED MARCUS SMITH - President, Charlotte Motor Speedway SCOTT COOPER - Charlotte Motor Speedway STEVE GAFFNEY - Vice President, ...

Transcript: NASCAR Sprint All Star Race Announcement
March 17, 2010

An interview with
MARCUS SMITH - President, Charlotte Motor Speedway
SCOTT COOPER - Charlotte Motor Speedway
STEVE GAFFNEY - Vice President, Charlotte Motor Speedway
ROBIN PEMBERTON - NASCAR Vice President of Competition

JOHN ROBERTS: I'm John Roberts from SPEED. I can say on behalf of everybody at SPEED, it is a huge honor to be involved in the only major league All-Star event that actually matters, that people care about the outcome. I don't think many people, you can go up to somebody and ask them who won the NBA All-Star Game, the east or west, but I think about any race fan can tell you it was a dramatic win for Tony Stewart at the All-Star Race.

It will mark the 26th running of the All-Star Race. We'll walk you through a lot of the schedule things, some of the adjustments to the week and some of the adjustments to the race itself. As exciting as those last 10 laps were in the 2009 All-Star Race, you'll be hearing how NASCAR and Sprint has ramped it up once again this year so you'll see even more excitement.

It's very rare in sports that we can point to one event that actually changed the history of the sport. We look back on this All-Star Race, the double-file restarts, the fans loved it, they asked for it, now we have it.

Before we get started, I would like to acknowledge the boss at SPEED, Hunter. We appreciate you keeping us employed. SPEED is not only the home of the All-Star Race itself, but all of the programming throughout Sprint All-Star week including the Pit Crew Challenge. Hunter, thanks on behalf of all of us for making that come to fruition every year, because it's a big undertaking.

Now we want to hear from the man who's track has hosted this All-Star Race, the president and general manager of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Marcus Smith.

MARCUS SMITH: Thank you. Welcome, everybody. It is great to have everybody here at the mecca of motorsports. It's really exciting to start up the discussion about having the Sprint All-Star Race here at Charlotte Motor Speedway, all the race time activities. I've been calling it the 'Season of Speed' because we have so many things going on with the drag race next week, the auto fair, the All-Star Race and the Coke 600.

Today on All-Star, one of the things JR mentioned, the double-file restarts, for the last full season and since the All-Star Race last year, we've been hearing about this double-file shootout style restart. It kind of warms my heart because I know it started here, which is fantastic we have this great competition that's been going on for a long time.

This will be the 26th running of the All-Star Race. It's really amazing when you look back on it and see the first winner, Darrel Waltrip, that won what is now the Sprint All-Star Race, it's come a long way. The most amazing thing are the memories that have come from this race. I've talked about it to several of you in the room. Y'all have been around to see the first one. You think about the incredible All-Star remembers with DW winning the first one, Dale Sr., Bill Elliott getting together for the 'pass in the grass' on the frontstretch, the history that was made there. You have Junior that won in his rookie season, which is fantastic. Then of course one hot night with Kyle Petty and Dave (indiscernible) crossing the line with sparks flying, cars on their hoods. That was a night that actually kind of went down as one of my favorite in history and one that really got me into being a fan of NASCAR. I grew up around it, as you know, but that night, seeing the sparks fly, like they tend to do at the All-Star Race, that was what really turned me on to the sport. Then last year with Tony winning his first time being an owner was a special night. I could not believe how the cars were going through turn four three-wide lap after lap after lap. They were a little bit sideways each time, which was fantastic, and added fun to it for me.

We have a lot of fun in store for fans at this year's All-Star Race. To tell you more about what the fans have in store, I'm going to invite Scott Cooper up to tell us.

SCOTT COOPER: As Marcus mentioned, Tony Stewart took home a million dollars last year. I think the true winners this event with the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race are always the fans. We have more than a couple dozen fans that actually got messages through our social media and through Miss Sprint Cup social media today. Let's give a round of applause for some of our folks that showed up here. We're looking forward to having you back in a few weeks when we run this race for real.

We have a jam-packed entertainment lineup. It's going to kick off in the afternoon with a prerace concert by Creed. This is a group that has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide. They were the only rock group to have seven No. 1 consecutive singles. This concert is going to be free in the infield for anybody that buys a race ticket to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. For the next three thousand people that buy race tickets, there's going to get a special golden ticket which will allow them into the concert area early. We're trying to provide even more fan access, give people opportunities they don't normally get anywhere else.

After the concert that evening, we're going to bring back the Pennzoil Victory Challenge. We'll have another exciting Burnout Challenge at the start/finish line that will be televised by SPEED. We'll have announcements in the coming weeks telling you more about the celebrity judges panel and some of the drivers signed up to participate in that burnout contest.

That evening of course we'll have the Sprint Showdown starting about 7:30, and that of course is that last chance race for people who haven't prequalified for the All-Star Race to try to race their way in.

Then the most spectacular driver introductions in all of racing, courtesy of our friends at Sprint. Man, I mean, the fireworks prerace are just as good as the fireworks at the end of the race that we have on the night of the Sprint All-Star Race that, is going to give us that grand finale, then the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, starting a little after 9 p.m. that evening.

We talked earlier about Tony Stewart trying to go 2-for-2 after winning his first race as a driver/owner this year. We have a special ticket offer. We're calling it Smoke Double Down to give fans the opportunity for more access. Those Tony Stewart fans are going to like this. We have two frontstretch tickets, two Tony Stewart souvenirs, two passes to a fan forum lunch with Tony here in the infield on May the 3rd. We're going to kick off our motorsports month that Monday with Tony here. That entire package for the race is priced at $149. Even more, $20 of every ticket package sold it's going to go back to the Tony Stewart Foundation. We're excited about that ticket offer. We're excited about getting a ton of people to come in and enjoy the most spectacular event in all of professional All-Star events. We're going to have a good time.

I know there's a lot more for the rest of the week. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it.

JOHN ROBERTS: That's a lot of stuff in one night. We see racing back to its roots, a Saturday night Shootout, winner take all. People trying to really win. The stick-and-ball sports, I don't think those guys are trying to win those All-Star Races. Guys would wreck relatives to get out there.

We have a calendar over there. We'll go through this quickly because you can get a lot of this information on the websites we'll mention. The calendar shows what's happening during All-Star week. Tickets for NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman, an event that continues to grow, went on sale a few days ago. That features head-to-head competition between four of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. It involves the guys behind the scenes, the unsung heroes and gives their families a chance to see them up close and permanent. That's Wednesday, May 19th, on SPEED, 7 p.m. eastern. It will be on SPEED that same evening televised at 9 p.m. You can go to With the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge on Wednesday, NASCAR's Revved Up will be held the following night, May 20th, from 4 to 10 p.m., interactive displays, driver appearances, and a free concert for the fans. That's in the same location, at 3rd and Mint. The concert will be free to the public. We have another big band on the way. We'll be announcing that in just a matter of a couple of days.

Friday, May 21st, we have the NASCAR charity event. The annual celebration of the NASCAR spirit enables fans and corporate partners to join together to make a difference in the lives of children. So that's a very important event as well on the track.

We have the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice and qualifying on Friday with the Carolina Lottery Truck Series race that evening at 8 eastern. If you've ever seen trucks do battle on this track, you know that's worth your time. We have practice and qualifying for the Sprint All-Star Race that day as well.

Saturday will have a full day of activities, highlighted by the 25th running of the Sprint All-Star Race that evening.

Ever since they've become the title sponsor of NASCAR's All-Star event, Sprint has put its mark on All-Star week through the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge and the introduction of the Sprint Fan Vote, which was a great way to get fans involved in that.

Here to talk more about what Sprint is offering the fans for this All-Star week, we have the vice president of corporate marketing for Sprint, Steve Gaffney.

STEVE GAFFNEY: Thanks and good afternoon. I want to thank members of the media for joining us today. I thank NASCAR for their tremendous partnership with Sprint. I'd like to thank SPEED for their passion and commitment that they bring to the stellar coverage of the sport, not only for the Sprint All-Star Race, but throughout the season.

I want to thank Marcus and the Charlotte Motor Speedway for always being a tremendous host both to the fans and to the industry.

It's an honor for Sprint to be the title sponsor at an event that is consistently considered one of the most exciting events during the Sprint Cup season. As our only entitled race, it certainly is a highlight of our season. It gives us a chance to bring new and exciting ways for the fans to get closer to the sport, especially true Sprint technology. And as evidenced by last year's 10-lap shootout, it also provides a fantastic opportunity to continue to push the competition forward. We'll talk more about that a little bit later.

One area that we've reached out to the fans since the inception of Sprint's title sponsorship back in 2004 is the Sprint Fan Vote, something that the fans continue to push every year. It's become part of the fabric of the All-Star competition. We've seen tremendous growth since its inception and especially in the last three years. We had about 200,000 votes in 2007. That's grown up to more than 700,000 votes in 2009.

Because of that popularity and because of the emphasis that we see the teams and sponsors and fans putting on trying to get their driver into the race, we're taking a new approach this year. We're going to open up the voting a little bit early. So next week on March 24th, fan voting will open for the Sprint All-Star Race. That's approximately four weeks earlier than we have in the last years and basically doubles the amount of time that people can cast their votes to get their driver into the race.

We also know that our technology is critically important to Sprints being a part of the NASCAR team. In addition to the vote, we know the fans love inside access and nothing is more inside than the driver crew chief meeting. For the second year in a row, with our partnership with NASCAR and Sprint technology, Sprint customers will have a chance to listen in live on the All-Star Race driver/crew chief meeting through Sprint Cup Mobile. Thanks to SPEED, it will give fans the chance to watch NASCAR on SPEED's coverage of All-Star week. Customers will be able to see practice sessions, qualifying, and watch the entire Sprint All-Star Race live on their Sprint devices.

Finally, I think everyone who witnessed the All-Star Race last year, or saw the highlights, would agree the final 10 laps were among the most exciting moments of the 2009 season. In those 10 laps we confirmed that no other event generates the no-holds-barred racing competition. To refresh your memories of everything that happened last year, let's go to a video.

STEVE GAFFNEY: Ladies and gentlemen, the 2009 Sprint Pit Crew Challenge champions, the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team from Richard Childress Racing.

So perhaps you're all now asking, what was that all about (laughter). So we all know that the pit crew's performance is critical in the Sprint All-Star Race. So to give you some additional details, I'd like to introduce my friend, vice president of competition for NASCAR, Mr. Robin Pemberton.

ROBIN PEMBERTON: I was wondering what the hell was going on myself (laughter). How quickly we forget.

Anyway, you know, I think last year's format all in all is probably one of the best formats we've had in relationship from the Pit Crew Challenge to that setting, the pit stall picks, in order of the finish of the Pit Crew Challenge.

I think sooner or later we'll be able to quit calling these guys the unsung heroes because with today's media coverage and drivers being able to twit and tweet and all that other stuff about their good and bad pit stops, they're going to know every one of these guys' names. So it's definitely turned in to be a major team sport. It's not just the driver anymore.

I think last year's format went very well. There is a tweak to this year's format as it relates to the All-Star Race. We felt like everything goes well. We meet. We talk about it. Hunter always throws in the ring of fire, the loop to loop. We voted him down again this year. He's picked up where Humpy left off. Marcus, you are well represented on that.

Anyway, going back to the pit crews, they are such an important part of everything we do week in and week out. And this year the pit crews will become even more important. As the format will remain the same through the first three segments with a green flag pit stop in the first segment, regular pit stops in the second and third, in between the second and the third. Our 10-minute break will be that. It will be a 10-minute break. It will be an opportunity for the drivers, crew chiefs, crews to discuss the changes they need to make and they can make a lot of those chassis changes. Those rules will remain the same.

But the twist is after that 10-minute break, the cars will leave pit road. They will line up as they finish the third leg, and they will follow the pace car around the first time, the second time by pit road will be open and there will be a four-tire pit stop by the teams. So the last segment will be the starting lineup will be set according to how they come off of pit road.

So I think this adds a little bit of extra twist to it. A little bit more pressure on the pit crews. We're looking forward to it.

I think this is going to be probably the biggest and the best we've ever had. I think we've improved it year in and year out. Right now things are going very well. I think this is another opportunity for us to have a great Saturday night.

So that being said, thanks for everything. John Roberts is next. I never get to announce a driver, unless he's coming to the hauler. See you at Bristol.

JOHN ROBERTS: And what a challenge that is for NASCAR and Sprint to outdo the show each year, but they manage to do it in some way, shape or form, improving on this Sprint All-Star Race every time.

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty