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The 29th NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race airs on SPEED at 7:00 pm ET this Saturday. The 90-lap race that takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway has undergone a few format changes that viewers can expect to make the racing even more intense. Here is a little bit about the race to get you ready for the best All-Star event in all of professional sports.
Drivers can get into the All-Star Race by any one of three ways:
1) If they have won a Sprint Cup race since last year’s All-Star Race or won a Cup championship in the past.
2) If they finish in the Top 2 of the Sprint Showdown (a 40-lap last-chance qualifier race held prior to the All-Star Race).
3) If they get voted in by NASCAR fans.
The race is broken up into five segments, the first four of which will be 20 laps long. The fifth and final segment (10 laps) will have its order determined based on the average finish of each driver in the first four 20-lap segments.
Even though the race itself has changed slightly, one thing that remains the same is the highly sought-after payday – $2 million this year instead of the customary $1 million that awaits the winner. Here are the drivers who have the best shot at winning the cash.
Driver Picks for the Sprint Showdown
The Sprint Showdown is a 40-lap last-chance qualifier race broken up into two 20-lap segments that features drivers who aren’t eligible for the All-Star Race because of recent wins or past championships.
Based on the current NASCAR standings and their histories at tracks similar to Charlotte Motor Speedway, you can expect Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard to make a run at winning the qualifying event. Truex Jr. finished 2nd overall in the 2010 All-Star Race and has won the Showdown twice in the past. McMurray has won twice at Charlotte in his Cup Series career (2002, 2010). All three drivers finished in the Top 10 at Kansas in April and have had solid seasons to date.
Driver Picks for the Sprint All-Star Race
The runaway favorites to win the All-Star Race and the big check that goes along with it are drivers who make a habit out of good showings at Charlotte. Kevin Harvick won here in 2011, is driving well as of late (won at Richmond on April 28th) and came out on top at the Sprint Unlimited Race (formerly the Budweiser Shootout) at Daytona, which requires a similar style of driving.
Jimmie Johnson is Jimmie Johnson. He has 6 career wins at Charlotte, 2 wins so far this year (Daytona & Martinsville) and is currently sitting atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
The third and final driver to watch when it comes to taking home the $2 million is Kasey Kahne. He has taken the checkered flag at this track 4 times in the past and won earlier this year at Bristol.
Remember to tune-in to SPEED at 7:00 pm ET on Saturday to see the race. There is bound to be a wreck or two as drivers will be pulling out all the stops to get their hands on that cash prize.