The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race lights up the night at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, on Saturday, May 17. The popular event is known for home-turf bragging rights and a huge $1 million paycheck to the winner, but no one races for NASCAR Sprint Cup points.
Fans love the five segments, with the first four consisting of 20 laps and the last featuring a 10-lap dash to the big prize.
The field of contenders consists of 22 eligible drivers, 19 of whom are winners of Sprint Cup point races in the current and previous seasons, plus past series champions or Sprint All-Star race winners from the past 10 years. A Sprint Showdown allows two top finishers to advance as well. One lucky driver is voted in to the final spot by fans.
Popular driver Danica Patrick has been voted in by fans in the past and shared her thoughts on the support.
“From a driver’s perspective, I would rather race my way in, but if I have to get in by fan vote—what other way is better than that?” Patrick said. “To have the fans put you in the race was something special. I have been lucky in my career to have great fans.”
Joey Logano and Tony Stewart pointed out the advantages of qualifying for the Sprint All-Star event.
“You want to come here to win the race and a million bucks,” Logano said. “There are no points, so you don’t worry about trying to finish third or fourth or anything. You want to go for that win. Plus, you can learn something for next week’s Coke 600 for sure.”
“If your car is driving well, you’re running for $1 million,” Stewart said. “But if your car isn’t driving well, you’re learning from that and applying it to the 600 instead. But they are not going to beat and bang like they might in the All-Star Race.”
Jimmie Johnson has won the event four times and hopes to add to his success near his home in the Charlotte area.
“There are always a lot of family and friends in town for the race and there is a lot of money on the line,” Johnson said. “A lot of the crew guys bring their wives and families to the track and the best part is everyone gets to sleep in their own bed.”
Jeff Gordon has won the event three times, but not recently. He discussed the format.
“This entire weekend is always interesting and exciting,” Gordon said. “With no points on the line, it allows NASCAR and Sprint and Charlotte Motor Speedway to have some unique rules. I enjoy the change and the challenge it provides.”
Kyle Busch pointed out the significance of the special weeks in the Charlotte area.
“The crowd gets jacked up, and nothing important on the line besides a million bucks,” Busch said. “We enjoy Charlotte these two weeks—with the All-Star Race one of the shortest and most fun events, and then the Coca-Cola 600 with the longest event.”
Matt Kenseth summed up the essence of the Sprint All-Star event.
The All-Star Race is a change of pace for us for sure,” Kenseth said. “It’s a short race, a different format, a different way of qualifying, and a lot of money on the line. We actually get very little practice. The best part about the All-Star Race is winning.”
So even if the NSCS point bank is empty at the Sprint All-Star Race, money bags are full for one driver who survives the intense competition.
Fans understand the unique lap segments and cheer heartily for the final segment, where they know drivers only want that checkered flag for the stacks of dollars and the prestige it represents. The brief event with the unique formula that will air at 9:10 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 is a fan favorite.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.
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