CONCORD, N.C. – There’s no questioning the amount of preparation that goes into every race for all of the Hendrick Motorsports race teams.
Still, there’s only so much teams can do to predict what will happen once the cars hit the racetrack.
“Yeah, we always have a plan and then as soon as the race starts, it all kind of gets blown up in our face,” No. 5 team crew chief Keith Rodden joked. “We’ll see what kind of conditions we have in the race and that kind of dictates your strategy. We’ve talked about it and all our guys are prepared, but sometimes you have to jump ship and make adjustments during the race.”
It’s those adjustments that will be important Saturday night in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS, said the first key is to qualify as well as possible in order to stay close to the front once the race begins.
From there, it’s all about adapting to the environment.
“That’s what Keith and our engineers will do throughout the race. They’ll figure that out,” Kahne said. “My job is to just go as hard as you can every lap and pass the car in front of you.”
Kahne has plenty of experience in the All-Star Race – he has competed in the annual event every year since joining the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2004.
In addition, he remains the only driver to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race after transferring into the event via the Sprint Fan Vote.
In order to grab his second win in the non-points event and claim the $1 million purse, Kahne knows the No. 5 Chevy SS will have to be strong all race long.
“It’s the best of the best in stock car racing, so you have to have a car that works really well,” he said.
He noted that the ability to pass competitors will be crucial, track position is key in order to set yourself up for a chance in the final 10-lap segment.
“You have to have a great car and you have to make great calls throughout the race,” Kahne said. “You have to push hard.”
Rodden agreed that it won’t be easy.
“It’s all the best guys and all the best teams and all the best equipment,” he said. “It’s really tough. It’s all about trying to get in the front two rows, I feel like, for the last segment and be able to race for a million dollars.”