Monday, May 16, 2011

NASCAR All-Star Race Weekend Storylines

Kevin Harvick excelling in the burn-out competition during All-Star week
One of the grandest spectacles in this sport – and the most exciting all-star event in any sport – has arrived.

The best-of-the-best meet under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night in what has become one of the most anticipated events on the NASCAR calendar – the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

As if it needed any, some added pop got sprinkled onto this one. There are a couple of new faces – Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith – joining the fray. There’s a notable absence who will have to race his way in (or nab a spot in the Sprint Fan Vote) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. And there’s still that feud going on. Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick traded only verbal blows last weekend in Dover, but this is different. Busch, especially, takes the gloves off during the all-star event. Remember, it was a year ago that he threatened Denny Hamlin – his own teammate.

But the two mainstays continue on – the cash and the points (or lack thereof).

There are no points paid out in this one, and the winner will earn over $1 million. In other words, the strategy is simple: Win by whatever means necessary.

To open up NASCAR Sprint All-Star weekend, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will run the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

To put a cap on the weekend, the NASCAR Nationwide Series runs at Iowa Speedway, in the Iowa John Deere Dealers 250 Presented by Pioneer.

Storylines follow…

Bayne, Smith Make All-Star Debuts
Regan Smith makes the All-Star field 
Two new faces will stack their blossoming talents up against the best on Saturday night. They’ve conquered before – that’s how they landed a spot in the all-star race, after all – so why not again?

The two – Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith – won arguably the two biggest races to date, the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500 at Darlington.

Bayne, who has missed the last three NASCAR Nationwide Series races because of illness, is optimistic that he will be healthy enough to run on Sunday. The youngster shocked the racing world in February, becoming the youngest ever Daytona 500 winner at 20-years-old.

Smith accomplished his much-anticipated breakthrough in Darlington two weeks ago, holding off Carl Edwards for the historic win at the legendary track.

Junior Out…For Now
Dale Earnhardt Jr. failed to win a race in either 2010 or thus far in 2011, and this season can no longer fall back on this event-champion provisional. He won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in 2000, but that achievement only locks a driver into the field for the following 10 years. His time is up.

But there’s two other means to the all-star end for Earnhardt. One, he could race his way in. If Earnhardt wins or finishes second in the Sprint Showdown – which precedes the all-star race – he’ll earn a spot in the field. Or if he wins the Sprint Fan Vote, he’ll get in – but only if he finishes on the lead lap in the Sprint Showdown.

2011, All-Star Race Share Common Thread: Competitive Balance
The amount of lead changes this season is record breaking – 33.3 per race. So too are the leaders per race – 13.6.

As Bayne and Smith have proven, anyone can win on any given Sunday (or Saturday night). There have been eight different winners in the first 11 races, the most since 2006.

The same can be said about the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race competitive balance, there have been seven different winners in the last seven races.

All-Star Win: A Sign Of Future Success
Busch did the double last year joining six others
A NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race victory often leads to success the following week – in NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600.

The extra track time allows team to gather vital information about set-up. So it makes sense that the All-Star-600 sweep isn’t all that rare.

Last season, Kurt Busch accomplished the feat for the seventh time. Others to do it: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003) and Kasey Kahne (2008).

Sprint Showdown’s Stout Field Brings Excitement To Final Two Wildcard Spots
The Sprint Showdown looks to be one of the best in years. The field is stacked with heavy hitters that will battle it out for the final two spots in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

Here is a list of some of stars vying for the final two spots:
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte and Terry Labonte; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners Jeff Burton, Derrike Cope, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Robby Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Casey Mears, Joe Nemechek, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers.

Special Qualifying Procedures For All-Star Race
This weekend’s qualifying procedures encompass the idea that NASCAR is a team sport. The unique qualifying procedures are detailed below:
· Qualifying consists of three laps, including a pit stop for four new tires.
· The pit road speed limit will be in effect when cars enter pit road but will not be in effect when cars exit.
· All cars must qualify with the fuel cell full of fuel.
· Total elapsed time of the 3-lap qualifying run will determine starting positions for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Spotlights Unsung Heroes
Pit Crew Challenge is awesome to watch
On Thursday night, a unique event will highlight some unique talents.

At Time Warner Arena in Uptown Charlotte, the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge will showcase the talents of the crewmen who truly make NASCAR a team sport.

Each member of the pit crew will be timed in their individual specialty, with each team advancing or "going home" in a bracket-style competition.

The No. 11 FedEx Toyota team for driver Denny Hamlin won last year’s event.

NASCAR Rev’d Up Launches Fan-Friendly Week
"NASCAR Rev’d Up," a six-hour event highlighted by a concert and fan entertainment is back for its third-consecutive year. The event, which is free to the public, takes place Wednesday, May 18 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte from 4 to 10 p.m. The program will feature driver appearances, NASCAR showcars and interactive displays, and culminate with a free concert starring multi-platinum country artist Gary Allan and country artist Josh Kelley.

The confirmed driver lineup:
Kasey Kahne – 5:15 pm for Trivia with SPEED
Joey Logano – 7:15 pm Intro for Josh Kelley
Regan Smith – 8:40 pm Intro for Gary Allan

The NASCAR community will unite to celebrate NASCAR Day on May 20 with its inaugural NASCAR Day Car Wash For Kids, a NASCAR Unites national volunteer effort and fundraiser to support children’s charities across the country.

This nationwide event encourages NASCAR fans to visit their local participating race tracks and other partner locations to contribute to the goal of raising $1 million and generating one million volunteer hours for children’s charities. More than 30 venues, including 15 NASCAR race tracks will hold car wash events. Proceeds from NASCAR Day Car Wash for Kids will benefit local children’s charities and The NASCAR Foundation.

Participating locations include Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Columbus Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Elko Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Lake County Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Richmond International Raceway, Thunderhill Raceway and Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. Additionally there will be events at select Bass Pro Shops and Freightliner Trucks locations as well as at Richard Childress Racing in Welcome, N.C.

What An Honor: NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Next Monday
The second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be officially inducted next Monday, May 23rd.

The members of the second class: Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, David Pearson and Lee Petty.

The historic event takes place in the Charlotte Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom, which is connected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

- NASCAR Media Services

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