Carl Edwards may have won the $1 million prize in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, but Saturday night it was half of a $100 bill that Edwards was concerned about.
After winning the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Edwards held up the ripped $100 bill once given to him by former track president H.A. ‘Humpy’ Wheeler on pit road in 2005. Wheeler told Edwards when he won the All-Star Race someday, he'd give him the other half.
"I don't know if Humpy is anywhere around, but I owe Jack $100 from another deal. It would mean a lot," Edwards said.
Sunday afternoon, I was able to catch up with Humpy Wheeler as he was making an appearance at the second annual Gaston Speedfest in Gastonia, N.C.
"You know, I forgot about that damn thing," Wheeler said. "Somebody told me about that and I looked in my (wallet). I thought he threw it away."
Pulling out the other half of the $100 bill, the former track promoter smiled his famous smile and said, "There it is. I plan on giving it to him this week."
Turning to fans walking with him, Wheeler recalled the story from 2005.
"The man wins a $1 million, and the man’s worried about half a $100 bill," he said with a laugh.
One of the most daring promoters on the business, Wheeler has been out of the spotlight since leaving Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2008. Known for his over-the-top pre-race shows and promotions, Wheeler offered his thoughts on the 2011 All-Star Race and its lack of action.
"Anytime you have the fastest car starting out on the pole in a short race like that, you are going to lose the race," he said. "I would definitely think that they would be considering a change there."
Wheeler’s idea is to develop a process in which by the flip of a coin the top five cars have the possibility of going to the back of the field for the final 10-lap segment. He also suggested coming up with a gimmick in which the fans could vote to invert the entire field for the final 10 laps.
"I’ve done that before," he said. "That has always produced good racing. We did that for a long time. What happens is, you need to have a lot of guts to do something like that. The drivers don’t like it. (They say) all you’re going to do is tear a lot of cars up. I would say, ‘Well, what if you’re not the fastest car.’ ‘Oh, I might like it then.’ (The drivers) are all for whatever shape they are in at the moment.
"It definitely needs to be changed," he said of the All-Star Race format. "You want action, you want passing, you want close racing. That is what that race is about. I would be in 100 percent favor of changing it – not that I have anything to do with it anymore. If I did, I would change it."
Touching on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s newest addition, the massive HD video board on the backstretch, Wheeler said he came up with that idea in the 1990s.
"I always wanted a big screen back there, even back to the 1990s," he said. "I kept pushing and pushing and pushing to have that thing put up. I even considered buying somebody else’s big screen and putting it back there or coming up with a homemade one and doing it. It took me leaving to get it done."