Race: Sprint Showdown and All-Star Race Picks to Win
Date: Friday May 15, 2015 and Saturday May 16, 2015
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Time: 7:15 pm ET and 9 pm ET
TV: FOX Sports 1
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Kansas proved to throw a wrench in the game for some drivers with pit strategy. Cautions were plentiful and many drivers suffered from poor timing with their pit strategies as a result. Jimmie Johnson, however, was at the front when it counted most. Kevin Harvick lead a good portion of the race and really dominated along with Martin Truex Jr., but with less than 10 laps to go, Johnson pulled to the front and took the checkers for the win.
This weekend, we are in for a different type of racing. This weekend is about the fans. Drivers are going to compete in the Sprint Showdown and then the All-Star Race at Charlotte for the chance at $1 million. Not a shabby payday if I do say so myself. The most important part of this weekend is that there are no points on the line. The second most important part of this weekend is that Kyle Busch is coming back to race. If you’ll remember, he’s been out due to several broken bones that happened during the opening races at Daytona. This is a good place to gauge if he’s ready to be back in the car fulltime. It’s a relatively short race and one that will not affect his standings. He is still eligible for the Chase so long as he wins a race and stays within the top 30 in points, so we’ll have to see how he handles this weekend.
The first of this set of races happens Friday night. The Sprint Showdown is essentially the last means to qualify for the All-Star Race. The drivers not qualified for the big event will race in 2 segments. Winners of both segments will move forward to All-Star Race on Saturday night. There are a total of 30 drivers competing in the Showdown for the 2 coveted positions.
The All-Star Race is comprised of 5 different segments. There are 4-25 lap segments and a final 10 lap segment. There is a mandatory pit stop between the last 2 segments. While pit stops in the rest of the race are voluntary, you better believe that there will be cautions and essentially forced pit stops along the way. The racing should be pretty competitive simply due to the lack of points on the line and the $1 million at stake. Currently, there are 17 drivers automatically entered into the All-Star Race. Those drivers were eligible by being a winner from 2014 through last week’s race, being a previous All-Star Race winner, or being a past champion who has attempted to qualify for all races in the 2015 season thus far. The only other means to get into this race are, of course, winning either of the segments of the Showdown or getting the prestigious fan vote into the main event. With how competitive the field is going to be, the winners could be numerous, but I’m really thinking the Johnson is going to carry his success from Kansas into the All-Star Race. Being that Charlotte is one of his best tracks never hurts either.
My Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
Middle of the Road Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse Prediction: Kyle Busch
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I would never normally put Kyle Busch in as a dark horse, but being that he hasn’t really raced this season and is coming off a pretty serious injury, it’s safe to say that he’s going to have to fight for the win. If anyone can do it, it will be Busch, so never count him out. Truex Jr. has been strong all season long, especially on the intermediate tracks. Assuming he gets the fan vote or a win from the Showdown, he’s got an awesome chance. Let’s just hope he manages to get to the main event.
With points not being a factor, I will leave those out of the picture for now. The Showdown and the All-Star are designed for the fans. This weekend should really be an exciting race and a good lead up to the Coca-Cola 600 the following weekend. It will give us a good idea of who’s really got a good setup for the longest race of the year. Stay tuned this weekend for some really great racing, no holds-barred style!
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