|Johnson grabbed the $1 million check in 2012|
That’s the easiest way to describe Saturday night’s 29th NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Twenty-two drivers will battle for a winner’s payout of more than $1 million without worrying that failure might damage their Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ chances.
The strategy is simple enough: Checkers or wreckers. Just bring back the steering wheel – as long as you’re carrying it to Victory Lane.
The odds favor defending All-Star Race winner Jimmie Johnson, a three-time event winner. He shares the all-time victory record Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt.
Parity, however, has been the watchword in recent All-Star races: 12 different winners in the most recent 14 events, six of them NASCAR Sprint Cup champions.
A surprise is who hasn’t won the event, starting with Joe Gibbs Racing. That may change this year as JGR’s lineup contains two of the season’s hottest competitors. Matt Kenseth, the 2004 All-Star winner, counts three victories. Kyle Busch has won twice. The pair has led a combined 1,521 laps during the season’s first 11 races.
Three All-Star berths remain up for grabs. The top-two finishers of the Sprint Showdown will transfer. The winner of the Sprint Fan Vote gets the final starting slot. Among those on the outside looking in are Sunoco Rookie of the Year rivals Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series takes a one-week breather in advance of the May 25 History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch won his fifth race of the season at Darlington Raceway, adding to the lustrous resume of crew chief Adam Stevens. The former JGR NASCAR Sprint Cup engineer has won 14 times with Busch and Joey Logano during the past two seasons. The Stevens-led No. 54 JGR Toyota team holds a 20-point NNS owner championship lead.
Matt Crafton, a former North Carolina Education Lottery 200 winner, attempts to add to his championship lead as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday night. Kyle Busch chases Charlotte truck win No. 5 while reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski – second a year ago – wants to join his father, Bob Keselowski, as the only father-son winners in the series record book.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE, SATURDAY, MAY 18, 7:30 P.M. EDT ON SPEED
Parity Reigns In NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
No surprise; five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has won three NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races, tied for most among active competitors with teammate Jeff Gordon. But he’s the only driver to have won more than once in the most recent 14 editions of Saturday night’s non-points event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It speaks to the depth of NASCAR’s premier series but also the quality of the All-Star’s winners – six NASCAR Sprint Cup champions claiming eight victories in the event beginning in 1999.
Gibbs Drivers ‘No Shows’ In Sprint All-Star Victory Lanes
Seven different organizations have won NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races since 1997. Amazingly enough, Joe Gibbs Racing is not among them. It’s a small sample – one game in 1987 – but Gibbs also is 0-for-1 as a National Football League Pro Bowl coach. This could be the week that JGR ends the drought based upon its performance this season to date. JGR drivers – led by 2004 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winner Matt Kenseth – have won five of the schedule’s first 11 races and led nearly 50% of the laps contested.
Hard-Charging Busch Still Chasing All-Star Victory
With more than $1 million to win and no points awarded, little wonder that most drivers approach the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race with a checkers or wreckers mentality. For Kyle Busch, the strategy leans heavily toward the latter result – four failures to finish in seven All-Star appearances, three of the DNFs due to accident. The race format, five segments ending with a 10-lap "trophy dash" would appear tailor-made for the hard-charging Busch – especially this year in which he’s won twice and led seven of 11 races for 740 laps.
Sprint All-Star Field Has 19 Qualifiers; Three More To Come
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race field of 19 drivers is comprised of 2012-13 NASCAR Sprint Cup winners; the past 10 NASCAR Sprint All-Star winners; the past 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup champions; the top-two finishers from the Sprint Showdown and the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote. Among those attempting to race their way into the All-Star race are Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., and rookie contenders Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Sprint Fan Voting continues through 5 p.m. EDT, May 18 viaNASCAR.com/SprintFanVote. Votes cast on NASCAR Mobile ’13 count twice.
Being In It Means You’ve Got A Chance To Win It
Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race via the Sprint Showdown or Fan Vote is akin to winning the lottery: You have a potential $1 million winning ticket but the odds against you are long. Still, being in it means you can win it. Three non-automatic qualifiers have won the big prize in the 28-year history of the event. Kasey Kahne was the most recent to defy the odds, punching his winning NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race ticket via the ballot box. Two "transfer" drivers went on to win – Ryan Newman in 2002 and Michael Waltrip in 1996.
Johnson Holds Standings Serve But Kenseth Closes
NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers take a one-week breather from the points wars but Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race will provide crucial data for how their Gen-6 cars will perform in the season’s longest event – the May 25 Coca-Cola 600. Jimmie Johnson continues as the standings leader by 44 points over Carl Edwards. Darlington winner Matt Kenseth gained a spot, from fourth to third, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer completing the top five. Kenseth’s three victories – potentially worth nine Chase bonus points – lead all winners.
- NASCAR Media Services