|Johnson won All-Star race in 2006 and will be favored to win Saturday|
Fitting, isn’t it, that Jimmie Johnson collected Hendrick Motorsports’ 200th victory on Saturday night, seven short days before the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
Johnson sent a message, loud and clear, to his colleagues and to fans. That message: “Hey, remember us? Despite a mini-drought, we’re still the juggernaut you have feared for the past two decades.”
Johnson delivered that message, post-marked perfectly, a week before the lights shine on the best NASCAR has to offer at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Coincidence? Doubtful.
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race festivities kick off on Thursday night with the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner Cable Arena in Uptown Charlotte at 7 p.m. ET. SPEED will broadcast the event on tape delay at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, the Sprint Showdown starts at 7 p.m. on SPEED, with the top-two finishers advancing into the main event. The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race starts at 9 p.m. on SPEED.
This weekend’s action begins Friday night with the return of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing, with the N.C. Education Lottery 200 on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on SPEED.
NASCAR Nationwide Series wraps up the weekend with always-anticipated short-track racing at Iowa Speedway. The Pioneer hi-Bred 250 will run Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN.
Storylines for this week…
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
No Points Means No Holds Barred
Saturday night’s absence of championship points is replaced with an abundance of action and daring driving. With no championship harm done, a no holds barred attitude settles upon NASCAR’s best.
Saturday night’s race will be run in five segments. The first four segments will be 20 laps each. The final segment will be the ultimate dash to the finish: 10 laps, only green flag laps count.
The winner gets a cool million.
Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race wins, with three. Carl Edwards is the defending winner.
Sprint Showdown: A Last Chance
Some big names have yet to lock up a spot in the main event field, namely Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya.
There’s two more chances for those drivers (and others) to land a spot in the field: race their way in, or hammer the polls.
The top-two finishers in the Sprint Showdown advance to the all-star race. The all-star race’s table setter is scheduled for 40 laps – two segments of 20 laps each. Finally, a driver can earn entry into the all-star race by winning the Sprint Fan Vote. Fans can vote here:
Spotlight Shines On The Men On Pit Road
Kicking off the festivities, the eighth edition of the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge will take place Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena (SPEED to televise on delayed basis beginning at 8 p.m.).
This competition between 24 of top NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pit crews features the “unsung heroes” of the sport in a popular tournament-style battle. The event’s finishing order determines pit selection for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The No. 11 Toyota team is the two-time defending champion.
Johnson Aims For 1-2 Punch
Jimmie Johnson’s 16-race drought vanished on Saturday, and with it a renewed optimism within the No. 48 camp.
Can its winning ways continue in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race? Johnson has two wins in the all-star race (2003 and 2006), but comes into the annual non-points extravaganza with three finishes outside the top 10. Johnson led in all three of those starts.
Edwards Looks To Add Name To Short List
Carl Edwards’ 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race win might be more remembered for the post-race celebration than his actual on-track performance.
After his win, Edwards attempted to spin out in Charlotte’s large grassy football field, but instead tore up the front of his No. 99 Ford and left a massive divot in the infield.
It was Edwards’ victory in the annual event. A second, this weekend, would put Edwards in rare company. Only one driver has won consecutive NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races, and it happened two decades ago – Davey Allison in 1991-92.
Newbies Out To Prove There’s No First-Time Jitters
First-timers usually don’t fare too well in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The last driver to win in his first appearance was Ryan Newman in 2002.
Those attempting to accomplish a feat that hasn’t occurred in a decade: Paul Menard, Trevor Bayne and Marcos Ambrose.
Other drivers could join those three as first timers, depending on the results of the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint Fan Vote.
- NASCAR Media Services