Sprint Showdown Picks – Sprint All Star Race Picks

Race: Sprint Showdown and Sprint All-Star Race Picks
Date: Saturday May 18, 2013
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Time: 7:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper

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Another year, another change in the rules to the All-Star Race that we are heading into this weekend. NASCAR is doing their best to equalize the field, and with that, comes changes along the way and as needed in order to ensure that all teams have the same advantage. Luckily, this year, we’re not going to see a huge change in the rules. The format is at least the same as it was last year, but there is one key difference. The way that the race runs, there are four 20-lap segments followed by a mandatory 4-tire stop before a final 10 lap segment. Now, in the past, we used to see a lot of drivers sit at the rear of the field to avoid wrecks and using up their cars before the end; however, NASCAR is curbing that desire to remain at the back with setting the pit road entry at the final segment based on the average finish of the drivers throughout the first 4 segments. Take that, Jimmie Johnson! Ha. Needless to say, Johnson and his team raced exactly how they should have to win, and that’s what makes them a championship-caliber team. I dare to say that this change is not going to really make him or his team any less. All that means is new strategy.

Now, before we get to the main event of the All-Star Race, we have the preliminary event known as the Sprint Showdown. This is for the drivers who do not meet the requirements to run in the All-Star race. These guys will run two 20-lap segments for a total of 40 laps. The first and second place finishers will advance to the All-Star. Additionally, drivers can qualify through the fan vote. Other drivers eligible for the All-Star race include the previous season’s winners as well as the current season’s winners and past Cup Series champions . As it stands there are a total of 19 drivers eligible for the All-Star race. Those drivers are Marcos Ambrose, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick. These guys will wait patiently as the rest of the active drivers try to race their way or earn their vote into the All-Star race from the Showdown.

There have been a slew of different winners of the All-Star Race. In the past, we have Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, and Jimmie Johnson with multiple wins. Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart have also had great success here. One name that is notoriously missing who I actually am going to run with this weekend though is Kyle Busch. Brother Kurt has a win in the All-Star, but Kyle does not. I really think that Kyle is hungry. He’s been extremely competitive this season and this is the type of race that he can really have some edge and attitude and come out on top. The other driver to watch is Jimmie Johnson. Charlotte Motor Speedway is the home to this race and was nick-named informally the House of Jimmie for a reason. He excels here and really will show that on Saturday night. Granted, I think that Kyle Busch is really going to stand in his way as Busch is hungry right now. He seems to keep getting robbed at the end of the races. For the Showdown, I think that we are going to see strong runs from Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray. Look for those guys to be battling at the top of the scoreboard to move on to the All-Star Race. Here’s the rundown for your main event potential winners in the All-Star Race:

Winner Pick: Kyle Busch

Middle of the Road Pick: Brad Keselowski

Dark Horse Prediction: David Ragan

David Ragan has always been a good driver. He really just hasn’t had much consistency up until the last year or two. He has been passed from team to team but seems to finally be coming into his own and really showing some strength. Keselowski, last year’s champion, has struggled this year, but Charlotte is a place where he can really redeem himself.

An important note to this race is that this is not a points race. This is a race strictly for the fans. This is here for us to enjoy and for the drivers to have at it! That’s what makes it one of the most exciting races of the year. With nothing to lose in terms of points, we often see some aggressive racing from drivers that we would never see in other situations. Finally, another cool incentive is an added $1 million bonus from Bruton Smith to any driver who wins all 5 segments. That’s just another reason for these guys not to sandbag every segment but the last.

The Showdown and the All-Star Race are often some of the most exciting events of the year. Look for it to be no different come this Saturday night! Stay tuned for a great night of racing under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway!