CONCORD — Panthers’ Rivera impressed by teamwork
Chip Ganassi Racing and Jamie McMurray had a special guest in their Victory Lane celebration Saturday night – Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
Team part-owner Felix Sabates joked that Rivera needed to come to more of the team’s races in the future.
“It’s all new to me, but what I thought was real interesting was to watch the teamwork they use, watching how the pit crew worked and got the car back out on the track as fast as possible and the synchronization with which they worked,” Rivera told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio while in Victory Lane.
“I was looking at it from that perspective and playing a football game. I tried to take something out of it. It was exciting and neat.”
Rivera said getting the experience at the track was far better than watching on TV.
“You get the real flavor of the excitement,” he said. “When the team has a great pit stop, they’re excited and when they have a bad one, they’re on each other talking about ‘We need to do better.’ ”
Pit stop problem: Kevin Harvick believed he had the car and the speed to win Saturday night’s All-Star Race, but the team’s pit stops needed to be better.
“I thought we had a really fast race car and did all the things we needed to do to put ourselves in position on the race track, and just couldn’t get it done on pit road,” Harvick said.
“We just didn’t make it happen at the end and ran out of time as we got to the closing laps.”
• I wasn’t a big fan of the use of average finish through the first four segments to determine how teams entered pit road before the final 10-lap segment of the All-Star Race. However, Saturday night’s race made it absolutely clear it is definitely a motivating factor for drivers to finish the best possible during the early segments, thus forcing them to perhaps take chances they would not otherwise. It certainly has been one of the better changes made, particularly in practical effect on the track.
• The weekend schedule used for the All-Star Race, with the Sprint Showdown qualifying race on Friday night along with the Truck race and All-Star Race qualifying before the race Saturday night appeared to be a success with fans. Turnout for Friday night was more than last season and the crowd Saturday really seemed to get involved with the qualifying session, which included no pit road speed limit during the three-lap and four-tire stop procedure.
• Josh Wise might not have run the most competitive race Saturday night, but this season’s All-Star Race fan vote winner got perhaps a more important prize – the opportunity to race in an event in which he would not otherwise have participated.
Five key moments
5 key moments
1 . Kyle Busch easily won the first 20-lap segment, but his race came to an abrupt end during Segment 2 when he was caught up in a three-car wreck.
2 . Jamie McMurray was among four drivers who didn’t pit after Segment 2 and he took over the lead on Lap 41 for the first time.
3 . After four segments, drivers entered pit road for the final scheduled stop based on their average finish. Entering pit road first was Kevin Harvick, followed by McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards.
4 . Edwards edged McMurray off pit road during the mandatory four-tire stop and held the lead entering the final 10-lap segment.
5 . McMurray quickly got alongside Edwards on the restart and the two battled side-by-side for several laps before McMurray cleared him driving around his outside.