No points. No problem. Just follow the money.
That’s the easiest way to describe Saturday night’s 29th NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (SPEED, MRN Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, 7:30 p.m. EDT). 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 135-mile race will be contested in five segments – four of 20 laps and a 10-lap finale. Nineteen drivers – 2012-13 Sprint Cup winners, and All-Star winners and Sprint Cup champions from the past 10 seasons – have claimed starting positions. Three additional starters – the top-two Sprint Showdown finishers and winner of the Sprint Fan Vote – complete the 22-driver lineup.
Odds favor defending All-Star Race winner Jimmie Johnson, a three-time event winner. He shares the all-time victory record with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt.
Johnson is the only driver to win more than once in the most recent 14 editions of the non-points race. He’s led in eight of his 11 NASCAR Sprint All-Star race appearances, including the last five consecutive.
Six of the recent 12 winners are NASCAR Sprint Cup champions. Eleven former All-Star Race winners are among drivers with guaranteed starting positions forSaturday night’s event.
Talladega Superspeedway winner David Ragan was the last to qualify with a 2013 victory. Ragan will be making his third NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race appearance, this time driving the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford.
Several all-star race veterans will be making their first starts with new teams: Kurt Busch (No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet); Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota); and Joey Logano (No. 22 Penske Racing Ford).
Logano’s team won the 2010 race with driver Kurt Busch.
The Sprint All-Star Race marks the first competitive appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway by the Gen-6 NASCAR Sprint Cup cars. What drivers and teams learn about the Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry will assist them greatly in setting up for NASCAR’s longest race, the May 26 Coca-Cola 600.
The winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race has gone on to capture the Coca-Cola 600 seven times. Current double winners are Kurt Busch (2010), Kasey Kahne (2008), Johnson (2003) and Gordon (1997).
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winner has won that season’s NASCAR premier series championship five times, including Johnson in 2006 and Gordon in 1995, 1997 and 2001.