“We anticipate the excitement will carry through the entire NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge week," said Dean Kessel, director of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series™ marketing for Sprint Nextel. “We have worked with each of our partners, including NASCAR, SPEED and Lowe’s Motor Speedway, to develop a format that honors the spirit of what the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge activities should be about."
The NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman, slated for May 16 at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, will be directly linked to the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, as the finishing order in the pit-crew competition will decide the selection order of pit stalls for the May 19 race. The NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman, now in its third season, will feature several new competitive elements.
“The NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge was filled with drama in its first two years," Kessel said. “We think these changes will help elevate that drama and excitement. Further integrating the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge with the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star race only increases the amount of importance of a championship-caliber pit crew."
The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge’s new format consists of four, 20-lap segments and features teams that qualify for the event by winning a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event during the 2006 or 2007 seasons. Additionally, two drivers will qualify for the premier event by finishing first and second, respectively, after two 20-lap segments in the NEXTEL Open. Finally, one driver will once again join the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge field by winning the NASCAR NEXTEL Fan Vote.
“Aside from being more compelling to fans and teams, we anticipate the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge will continue its tradition of being one of the most exciting races of the year," said Steve O’Donnell, vice president of racing operations for NASCAR. “The teams will have the ability to make wholesale changes at certain points of the event and develop different strategies as the event progresses."
Teams will have the option of pitting after the first 20-lap segment of the event, giving up their respective on-track position by doing so. A mandatory 10-minute stop will follow the second 20-lap segment. Teams will resume their position at the start of the third segment.
Following segment three, all remaining participants on the track will circle the track under caution. Each team will then conduct a pit stop under race-like pitting conditions. The order of the teams exiting pit road will serve as the starting lineup for the fourth, and final, 20-lap segment.
“Never before have the pit crews been more instrumental in deciding the outcome of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge," O’Donnell said.
The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge will be broadcast live on SPEED. Additional details about the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge will be announced at a later date.
Tickets, which start at $21 for adults and $10 for children under 12, to the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge are on sale now through the Lowe's Motor Speedway ticket office. Fans may purchase tickets by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at lowesmotorspeedway.com. Information regarding tickets for the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge will be released soon.