NASCAR Sprint Cup Showdown and All-Star Races Preview and Pick to Win

Date:Saturday May 22, 2010
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Time: 7:30 pm ET begins the Showdown with the All-Star beginning at 9 pm ET
Channel: SPEED

by Virginia Vroom of

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This weekend brings about a race that truly shows where NASCAR orginatd: the fans! The NASCAR All-Star Showdown and the All-Star Race are two of the biggest events put on especially for the fans. These races are not points-based and produce a huge crowd for the drivers to excite throughout the night.

Because this is not a points-based race, it’s generally an AWESOME show for the fans. Drivers take their gloves off and do anything in their power to win because winning is truly all that matters in these two races.

The Showdown is a chance for those guys not yet eligible for the All-Star Race to get in. The first and second place finishers move on to the coveted race. There is another position open for the All-Star Race. That position is determined by a driver with the most fan votes.

The Showdown is a quick race. It’s a 20 lap/30 mile shootout for the ineligibles to fight their way in. There have been some pretty treacherous wrecks in this first race just trying to get in. These guys have nothing to lose but pride. If you happen to get one of the coveted two spots into the All-Star Race, you better be prepared for even more exciting action through 4 total segments.

The first segment is 50 laps with a mandatory green flag pit stop on lap 25 where drivers have to take 4 tires. After the segment ends, the caution will wave and give drivers the option to come in for another pit stop. The second segment is a quick 20 laps ending with the caution once again and another optional pit stop. The third segment is another 20 lap segment with a 10 minute break at the end during which teams may make normal adjustments that are allowed during a typical pit stop. The fourth segment is a 10 lap shoot-out. While eveything else has stayed the same since last year, there is a twist in the final segment where teams must come down pit road for a 4-tire stop after taking a lap behind the pace car. The field’s lineup for the pace lap is determined by the finish of the 3rd segment, but once the drivers come down for their 4-tire stop after the pace lap, the running order is then determined for the shootout.

This show is sure to be awesome. With the mandatory stops and the additional 4-tire run that the guys have to take before a 10 lap shootout, there’s no telling what’s going to happen.

Let’s give you an idea of the current field for this year’s All-Star Race. These are the drivers who won a race last year, have won the All-Star before, or a previous Sprint Cup Champion within the last 10 years.

1. Matt Kenseth
2. Kyle Busch
3. Kurt Busch
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Jeff Gordon
6. Mark Martin
7. Brad Keselowski
8. David Reutimann
9. Tony Stewart
10. Kasey Kahne
11. Joey Logano
12. Denny Hamlin
13. Brian Vickers
14. Jamie McMurray
15. Ryan Newman
16. Kevin Harvick
17. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
18. Bobby Labonte

If you don’t see their name, they need to get voted in or race their way in. The voting is still open, so head to to cast your vote for the driver that you’d like to see in the All-Star.

As a quick side-note, Vickers has been benched because of health issues, so we will more than likely see Casey Meares in that car this weekend, as he covered for Vickers at Dover this past weekend. We wish the best to Vickers as he continues to be monitored for his health condition.

Moving on to picking a winner for this race is about as unpredictable if not more than picking a winner for Daytona or Talladega. That being said, I think that we have to look at who does well here. Jimmie Johnson pretty much owns this track. While we’ve all enjoyed seeing him fair relatively poorly over the past few weeks, I think this weekend is where he is going to redeem himself. Charlotte is essentially Jimmie’s house. He always does well here, always. It’d be irresponsible for me not to pick him just because he’s got a lot of enemies right now. Regardless, I think that Johnson is going to pull it into victory lane this weekend.

Despite that pick, this Saturday night stands to be an awesome night of racing. In an event created for the fans, there is no better atmosphere to enjoy some great battles and awesome driving. Buckle your seatbelts because it’s going to be a crazy night!