Concord, NC (Sports Network) - With a possible $2 million payday for the
winner and some recent changes in the format, this year's NASCAR Sprint All-
Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway could be the most thrilling one in the
event's 29-year history.
In previous years, at least $1 million went to the winner of the all-star
race. The same amount will be awarded to Saturday night's winner. But this
year's event has an added incentive. If a driver finishes first in all of the
four 20-lap segments and then takes the checkered flag for the final 10-lap
shootout, then that person will collect an additional $1 million.
NASCAR has made some format modifications, including a couple of tweaks
revealed earlier this week, that will add more excitement to both qualifying
and the race.
Friday's qualifying will consist of three laps and a mandatory four-tire pit
stop. However, a speed limit will not be enforced when a driver enters or
exits pit road during his or her qualifying attempt.
The number of laps in the five segments remains the same as last year. There
are a total of 90 laps equaling 135 miles.
One of the changes for this year's race is the running order at the completion
of the fourth segment (Lap 80), which will be repositioned based on the
average finish for the first four stints. The order will be placed directly
behind the caution car prior to the opening of pit road for a mandatory four-
tire pit stop. The starting lineup for the fifth segment will be determined by
the order of cars returning to the track from the pits.
Then it's a dash for a lot of cash when the green flag waves for the final
"It's just no holds barred," said Kyle Busch, who is one of those drivers
already eligible for the all-star race. "Go for everything, go for broke and
see what you get. Literally, it's going for broke, because you either come
home with a million bucks or you're broke, so it's a great race just for the
fans, I think, and for the drivers, because it's a non-points race. You get to
go out there and put everything on the line."
The field for the 2013 all-star race will consist of 22 drivers. Nineteen of
them have presently locked down a starting position. The top-two finishers in
the Sprint Showdown (40-lap preliminary race) will advance into the main
event. And the last spot will go to the winner of the fan vote. NASCAR
recently noted the fan vote driver has to finish the Showdown and his or her
car is in "raceable" condition as determined by Sprint Cup Series director
Danica Patrick, in her first full season as a Sprint Cup competitor, is the
favorite to win the fan vote, if she does not finish either first or second in
the Showdown. The rule change for the fan vote winner not having to finish on
the lead lap in the preliminary race could be beneficial for Patrick, since
she has finished on the lead lap in just two races this year -- the Daytona
500 and Martinsville. She was not eligible for the preseason event at Daytona
"I think about it from a fan's perspective, and I think you want the driver
you cheer for to be out there, of course, but you want a good race," Patrick
said. "Hopefully, they think of me when they think of those two. We always
have the opportunity to race in as well. We've been working really hard over
the last month on our mile-and-a-half car, and we need to. Let's hope it all
comes together by the all-star race."
Martin Truex Jr. is one of those drivers competing in the Showdown that has
won it twice (2007 and '10). Truex, who qualified for last year's Chase for
the Sprint Cup championship, has not won a points-paying race in NASCAR's top
series since June '07 at Dover. He has finished second in a race three times
within the past 13 months.
"Without a doubt, I feel like we should win that (Sprint Showdown)," Truex
said. "Anything less would be a disappointment. We're going there guns loaded,
trying to do all we can do, and hopefully, we'll come out on the right side of
it this time."
Jimmie Johnson, the current points leader, won the all-star race for the third
time last year. Johnson's other victories in this event came in 2003 and '06.
Busch has won the pole for this race the past two years. He finished second in
2011 and fourth in 2012. Busch also has led 14 or more laps in each of the
last seven events.
"I've been aggressive, and I've been maybe too aggressive at points and not
aggressive enough at other points," he said. "Last year, we just ran a clean
race and didn't really do much aggressive driving or anything, and we ended up
fourth. Maybe there was a little bit more that needed to be done, but overall
it was a good week there for us last year and also our second-place run in
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Saturday, May 18. Race: NASCAR Sprint All-
Star Race. Site: Charlotte Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time:
7:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 90. Miles: 135. 2012 Winner: Jimmie Johnson. Television:
Speed. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
The Sports Network