NASCAR All-Star Race 2013: Drivers to Watch in Unique Charlotte Race

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2013

CONCORD, NC - MAY 17:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet, stands in the garage area prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17, 2013 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The NASCAR All-Star race always offers an exciting change of pace from the weekly points race. The 2013 edition should be no different.

Because the race isn't for points, there's a real winner-takes-all mentality that will make the action all the more intense. Throw in the fact that the biggest names in racing will be vying for a $1 million purse and you know that this is one of the most unique races of the year.

Many of the sports biggest names have already qualified. The Sprint Showdown and a fan vote will allow three more drivers to get in on the action. There's plenty of star power to make this a must-see event for any racing fan.

Here's the current lineup along with the top contenders to watch.

No. Driver Make
2 Brad Keselowski Ford
5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet
9 Marcos Ambrose Ford
11 Denny Hamlin Toyota
14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet
15 Clint Bowyer Toyota
16 Greg Biffle Ford
18 Kyle Busch Toyota
20 Matt Kenseth Toyota
22 Joey Logano Ford
24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet
29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet
34 David Ragan Ford
39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet
48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet
55 Mark Martin Toyota
78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet
99 Carl Edwards Ford

Drivers to Watch

Jimmie Johnson

If you're talking about the All-Star race, no one does it better than Jimmie Johnson. In addition to winning the 2012 edition, he's one of the few racers in history to win the event multiple times.  

Even though the race is just an exhibition, Johnson has made it clear that he's coming to compete, per the USA Today.

I don't spend a lot of time looking at stats, but I'm very proud of what I've done and very excited to put my name up there with Jeff and Earnhardt. It's one of the majors for us. When drivers map out the year and set goals, the All-Star Race is one of the top three for everybody

Johnson's three wins has him tied for most all time with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt. If he wins this time around, he'll have the record all to himself.

As one of the best racers in the sport right now, he has to be the odds on favorite.

Kyle Busch

There are some drivers who really benefit from the win-or-go-home nature of the All-Star race. Because ending the night on a crash is just as bad (financially) as finishing in second place, there's more impetus to "go for broke".

Kyle Busch, for one, embraces that challenge, per the Sports Network.

It's just no holds barred... 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.

Busch already holds two wins and six top-10 finishes in 11 starts this season. It wouldn't be surprising if his aggressive style leads to a strong showing in this race.

Jeff Gordon

Gordon may not be having the best season. He has yet to earn a win in 2013. But as Johnson alluded to, he's also tied for the most All-Star victories of all-time.

Despite the lack of wins, he's been on the cusp  a few times. He has two top-five finishes, including a third-place finish in the Bojangles Southern 500 in his last race.

A return to the familiar All-Star format might be just what he needs to get back to the winner's circle.


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