NASCAR All Star Race Preview
By Blake Smith and Moon Mullins
ALL STAR BREAK WEEK
NASCAR has reached the weekend in the schedule where “big picture racing” and competing for points is out the window. It’s time for the Sprint All-Star Race with up to two million dollars in prize money! As we enter the break, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer have had the best seasons thus far, with Johnson holding a 44-point edge on Edwards for the Cup Series lead.
ALL STAR HISTORY
The Sprint All-Star Race, formerly known as the “Winston” was first held at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1985. In that inaugural race, Owensboro’s Darrell Waltrip took home the win. Waltrip recalls, “Winning that first All-Star race was critical. Win the first anything and people will never forget . Can you name the winner of most of the All-Star races? Probably not, but you sure know who won the first one”. Darrell also talked about the special car Junior Johnson built for him. “Why is that so important? Because ever since that race, nearly everyone has built special cars and engines for the All-Star race. Special paint schemes and uniforms and one-of-a-kind cars that were designed to run in just this race. It all started with that first race.” The all-star event has been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year since then except for 1986, when Bill Elliott dominated the race at Atlanta.
RULES AND REGS
The All-Star weekend format is unlike any other weekend on the NASCAR schedule. The main-event is split into four 20-lap segments with a final 10-lap shootout for the win. NASCAR announced that this year the starting order for the final 10-lap segment will be based on the average finishing positions in the previous four segments. “Having the average finish through the race’s first four segments determine how the cars come down pit road for the last mandatory four-tire pit stop takes the competition to an even higher level,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition. “The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is truly a showcase event for our sport and this format should bring out the best in our drivers and our teams.
SATURDAY NIGHT’S EVENT
19 drivers are eligible and have entered for the Sprint All-Star Race. Those drivers have won a race either this year or in the preceding year, are Sprint Cup Champions within the last ten years or drivers who have won the All-Star Race in the last ten years. A total of 22 drivers, however, will start the All-Star Race on Saturday night. The other three entries come from the top two finishers in the preliminary Sprint Showdown Race and the fan vote winner. The Sprint Showdown will be held before the All-Star Race and has 23 drivers entered. Kasey Kahne won the All-Star Race after winning the fan vote back in 2008.
The Sprint All-Star Race is a different format and so is the qualifying session to determine the starting lineup. The qualifying times are based on a three lap time with a mandatory four tire pit stop. On Wednesday, NASCAR announced there will be no speed limit on pit road for the All-Star Qualifying Session. During this time, there will be no other cars on pit road and the cars will have to come to a complete stop before crew members can come over the wall to service the car. Pit Road rules and speed limit will return to regular format for Saturday night’s race.
The All-Star Race is known for experimental race packages. In years past, teams built a special car for this weekend and use experimental engine packages to test endurance of future equipment. With no points on the line, this is the perfect weekend to try some Research and Development equipment. Both Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer are unloading new cars for this weekend’s race while other teams are using previously raced cars, saving their new and best equipment for next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600.
NASCAR NEWS THIS WEEK
Michael Waltrip Racing has fired Lee Dodson, a mechanic for Clint Bowyer’s car, after Dodson failed a drug test. Also, this week North Carolina police arrested driver Mark Harmon Wednesday. Harmon was charged with stealing a hauler from Jennifer Jo Cobb valued at more than $250,000. He denies it. He tweeted, I want it known that I have never stolen so much as a piece of bubble gum in my life”.
Sad news to report. Thursday afternoon we learned of the passing of NASCAR veteran driver Dick Trickle. The Lincoln County North Carolina Sheriff’s Office reported Trickle died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Apparently, Trickle called 911 and told the operator to come to the cemetery and there would find a dead body and it would be his. He then hung up the phone. Communications Center workers attempted to call Trickle back, but he did not answer. When emergency crews arrived on the scene, they reportedly found Trickle’s body lying near his pickup truck. Dick Trickle was a NASCAR legend who actually didn’t start with the organization until he was 48-years-old. He won the Winston Cup Series’ “Rookie of the Year” in 1989. Trickle was 71 years old. Thoughts and prayers are with the family.
BLAKE AND MOON’S PICKS
After a dominating performance in last week’s Southern 500 with a sixth place finish after a tire failure, Kyle Busch will be ready to win on Saturday night. Busch is known for his aggressive driving techniques and is always sure to get everything out of the car. Kyle Busch and the #18 Snickers Bites Camry is my pick for the All-Star winner! Moon … your pick has to win the fan vote or be the one of the top two finishers in the Showdown. We will see if Danica is ready to run with the ‘All-stars of NASCAR!” Do it, Danni!!
Tune into coverage of Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race beginning at 5:30 PM on WBKR and WBKR.com!