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NASCAR All-Star Race Preview

by Dave Grayson
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

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Tony Stewart won last year's All-Star race
NASCAR's version of all star night takes place this Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The annual 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup All Star Challenge will feature 21 drivers running a total of 100 laps all vying for a giant cardboard check that reads "pay to the order of-one million dollars."

There will of course be the usual jockeying for position on the track during the event's four segments. There will also be a lot of jockeying for position on pit road because there will be at least five opportunities in this event for crew chiefs to make the adjustments needed to get their drivers to the front of the field.

But with the best laid plans of racing teams it all get down to that final ten lap, winner take all, shoot out. This event is about the glory, the prestige and that giant check. The race has absolutely no effect on Sprint Cup points and Chase standings. Don't expect to see a lot of driver etiquette Saturday night either especially during the final ten laps.

THE FORMAT

Segment one of the 2010 Sprint Cup All Star Challenge is 50 laps. Making this segment a little more interesting is a mandatory green flag pit stop on lap 25 when teams will have to take on four tires. At the end of the 50 lap segment the caution flag will come out when the teams will be provided an opportunity to make an optional pit stop.

Segment two will be 20 laps long with a caution flag displayed at the end of the run for another optional pit stop.

Segment three is also a 20 lap run followed by a ten minute break at the end. This is the point where a crew chief will have to rise to the occasion and call for the adjustments he thinks his driver and car is going to need for the final money run.

Then it all gets down to segment four, the ten lap shootout. This is the money shot that will be based first on the performance of the pit crews followed by the aggressiveness of their drivers. The initial line up for this segment will naturally be based on the finishing order from segment three. But that line up will be short lived. Once the field takes a lap behind the pace car, all cars must enter pit road for a four tire stop. The order in which the cars exit pit road will determine the line up for this final segment.

From that point the free for all is on and fans can expect a level of intensity from a racing environment where literally anything can happen on a seconds notice. Making this segment a little more interesting is the fact that it's ten complete green flag laps. The yellow caution laps will not count. Don't be too surprised if it takes a little time to run these ten laps.

THE LINE UP CRITERIA

There are six different ways for a team to participate in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup All Star Challenge. The first criteria includes drivers who have won races during the 2009 season as well as the winners from the current season through last weekend. In the case of a race winning driver who has left a team he will remain eligible for the event but his former team will not be eligible.

The second criteria is a special category for drivers who are past Sprint Cup champions within the last ten years.

Criteria number three includes drivers who have won the All Star Race within the past ten years.

The fourth and fifth criteria includes the driver who wins the Sprint Showdown race as well as the driver who finishes second. The Sprint Showdown is the NASCAR Sprint Cup's version of a B main similar to the format used at your local Saturday night race tracks. The race will be 20 laps long.

The sixth and final criteria is especially interesting because that driver will be voted into the race by the fans.

THE LINE UP

There are presently 21 teams eligible to compete in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup All Star Challenge. The line up for the first segment of the race will be determined by qualifying sessions on Friday evening. Drivers already guaranteed a starting berth in the race include:

1. Matt Kenseth. #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

2. Kyle Busch. #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

3. Kurt Busch. #2 Penske Racing Dodge

4. Jimmie Johnson. #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

5. Jeff Gordon. #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

6. Mark Martin. #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

7. Brad Keselowski. #12 Penske Racing Dodge

8. David Reutimann. #00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

9. Tony Stewart. #14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet

10.Kasey Kahne. #9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford

11.Joey Logano. #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

12.Denny Hamlin.#11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

13.Brian Vickers. #83 Red Bull Racing Toyota

14.Jamie McMurray. #1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

15.Ryan Newman. #39 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet

16.Kevin Harvick. #29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

17.Bobby Labonte. #71 TRG Chevrolet

18.Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

19.Reserved for 2010 Sprint Showdown winner

20.Reserved for 2010 Sprint Showdown second place finisher

21.Fan Vote Winner.

THE SPRINT SHOWDOWN

Again, this is the NASCAR's Sprint Cup's version of a B Main or last chance race. Presently there are 29 entries for this 20 lap event that will send the first two drivers to the big money race. The criteria for the race line up is based on drivers whom, for a lot of reasons, has not won a Sprint Cup event since the conclusion of the 2008 season, has not won a Sprint Cup championship within the last ten years or has not won the All Star Challenge within the last decade.

This 20 lap run may turn out to be of major interest because, for the first time in years, the line up is comprised of some very high profile drivers. Some of the heavy hitters in this race include Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex Jr.

THE FAN VOTE.

The 2010 Sprint Fan Vote is ongoing and allows fans to choose which eligible driver gets to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup All Star Challenge. To be eligible for the Sprint Fan Vote drivers must have finished in the top 50 of the final 2009 Sprint Cup Series driver points standings , attempted to qualify for the 2010 Daytona 500 or at least competed in a Sprint Cup race during the 2009 or 2010 season. The driver who accumulates the most votes, who also finishes the Sprint Showdown race on the lead lap, will earn a spot in the All Star Challenge starting line up. There are presently 41 drivers eligible for the Sprint Fan Vote.

The voting process will continue until one hour prior to the start of the All Star Challenge race and fans are allowed to cast unlimited votes for their favorite driver. The Fan Vote winner will be announced immediately following the conclusion of the Sprint Showdown race.

Sprint customers can vote using the NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile application on their Sprint or Nextel devices. As an added incentive for customers, every wireless vote submitted from a Sprint or Nextel device counts double towards a driver's vote total. To download the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, which is free with any data plan, Sprint customers should text "NASCAR" to 7777. Sprint customers can also vote without downloading the NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile application by texting "VOTE" to 7777. Standard text messaging and data rates apply when using this method. Fans can also vote on line by visiting NASCAR.com.

Just how potent is the Sprint Fan Vote? Just ask driver Kasey Kahne. In 2008 Kahne was voted into the All Star Challenge by the fans and went on to win the race and the giant check.

THE VEGAS BREAKDOWN.

If the always fun and factual people at the WSE, World Sports Exchange, provides you weekly odds for all NASCAR Sprint Cup racing then you know they're ready for All Star weekend.

Beginning first with the 20 lap Sprint Showdown race, the WSE has Jeff Burton at 3 to 1 odds on top of their list to win the transfer spot into the big money race. He's followed by Carl Edwards at 4 to 1, Greg Biffle at 9 to 2 while Clint Bowyer and Juan Pablo Montoya are ranked at 5 to 1. Martin Truex Jr completes the Showdown ranking coming in at 7 to 1.

When it comes to which driver is going to take home the one million dollar check, the WSE is picking two time all star winner Jimmie Johnson and backing that choice with 4 to l odds. The red hot Kyle Busch, looking for his first All Star Challenge check, is ranked at 9 to 2 odds. Surprisingly Jeff Gordon, who has won this race three times, comes in at 6 to 1 and his followed by the red hot Denny Hamlin at 8 to 1.

At 12 to 1 odds we have a trio of drivers featuring Martin Martin, who won this race in 1998 and 2005. 2004 race winner Matt Kenseth is also in this group as is Kurt Busch.

In the 15 to 1 group we have a trio of All Star Challenge champions that includes reigning champion Tony Stewart, 2008 winner Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick who won the 2007 event. The ever popular Dale Earnhardt Jr, who won this race back in 2000, comes in at 20 to 1. At 25 to l odds we have a trio of drivers led by 2002 race winner Ryan Newman along with Joey Logano and Jamie McMurray.

Normally we would present the official disclaimer, regarding gambling on NASCAR races, here. That's not going to happen this week race fans. If NASCAR can present a 100 lap race, in four segments, with a million dollar check in a no holes barred let's go old school racing boys format then gambling on the race shouldn't be that big of a deal.

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