NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race: Seven things to know

Image courtesy of @TeamHendrick.

It may only be an exhibition race, but the Sprint All-Star race means so much more. Sure, getting to Victory Lane at any track is special, but winning Saturday night means clearing over $1 million—which has been awarded to the last 12 winners.

That, my friends, is what makes NASCAR’s version of the All-Star weekend so enthralling. Leading up to the Sprint Showdown on Friday and the All-Star Race on Saturday, here’s a look at every detail NASCAR fans need to know.

1. Watch/Listen/Stream/Wager

Sprint Showdown

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway

When: Friday, May 15 at 7 p.m. ET

TV: Fox Sports 1

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Radio: Motor Racing Network

 

Sprint All-Star Race

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway

When: Saturday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX

Live Stream: Fox Sports Go

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Spread (via Sportsbook.ag): Kevin Harvick 7-2; Brad Keselowski 6-1; Jimmie Johnson 6-1; Joey Logano 6-1; Kurt Busch 6-1; Field 10-1.

2. How It Works

Heading into Friday night, only 17 spots are currently filled for the Sprint All-Star Race. Those entries include some of the most successful drivers like recent race winners Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. Here’s the full list of drivers in the hunt by car number:

1. Jamie McMurray (Win in 2014 Sprint All-Star Race)

2. Brad Keselowski (Seven wins since 2014)

4. Kevin Harvick (Seven wins since 2014)

5. Kasey Kahne (Won at Atlanta in 2014)

11. Denny Hamlin (Two wins since 2014)

14. Tony Stewart (Win in 2009 Sprint All-Star Race)

18. Kyle Busch (Win at Auto Club in 2014)

19. Carl Edwards (Two wins since 2014)

20. Matt Kenseth (Win at Bristol in 2015)

22. Joey Logano (Six wins since 2014)

24. Jeff Gordon (Four wins since 2014)

31. Ryan Newman (Win in 2002 Sprint All-Star Race)

41. Kurt Busch (Two wins since 2014)

43. Aric Almirola (Win at Daytona in 2014)

47. A.J. Allmendinger (Win at Watkins Glen in 2014)

48. Jimmie Johnson (Seven wins since 2014)

88. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Five wins since 2014)

Those are the confirmed spots for now. For drivers like Danica Patrick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson, a berth can be secured through winning one of two segments in the Sprint Showdown on Friday night.

The final position will be awarded to the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote, which will be announced at the conclusion of the Sprint Showdown. Josh Wise won the contest last season thanks to Dogecoin and the internet, but the popularity of Patrick and Truex should propel one of them into the weekend. That’s only if they’re unable to win on Friday.

3. Fresh Paint Schemes

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be rolling out a brand new paint scheme during the All-Star Race. Image courtesy of @TeamHendrick.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be rolling out a brand new paint scheme during the All-Star Race. Image courtesy of @TeamHendrick.

Over the long history of the All-Star race, NASCAR sponsors have often waited to show off their muscle during the showcase event. This year is no different, with some of the biggest names rolling out new schemes.

Those include Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a new Baja Blast machine and Jimmie Johnson in the patriotic look. Others like Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick will be featuring new schemes from Bass Pro Shops and Hunt Brothers Pizza, respectively. A full look at the previews can be found at NASCAR.com.

4.  Rowdy Returns

It was rumored for weeks leading up to this weekend, but it was finally made official earlier this week. Kyle Busch will be making his long-awaited return to the Sprint Cup in the 90-lap All-Star race on Saturday night.

Coming off a broken foot and leg, Rowdy couldn’t have picked a more perfect race to make his return. With mandatory cautions and just 90 laps, Busch should have no issues with his health. Holding onto three top-five finishes in the last four All-Star races, he might also make a difference in his first weekend back.

5. Chase in Charlotte

Welcome back to the Sprint Cup, Chase Elliott. The 2014 Xfinity Series champion has already raced in two points races this season, so his feet are clearly wet. But with his entry in the Sprint Showdown, the No. 25 driver for Hendrick will have time to prepare for the longest race of his career.

Not only will Elliott be on hand for the Showdown, but he’ll also be looking to earn a spot in the All-Star event. All of that will prepare the 19-year-old driver for his start next Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600. Oh, and he’ll be racing in Iowa this Sunday then next weekend again in Charlotte for the Xfinity races. Let’s just say Elliott will be a busy man over the next two weeks.

6. Favorite

Jimmie Johnson just wins. Six-Time’s superiority has already shined this season with three wins. He already has four in the Sprint All-Star race and will be looking for his third in the last four years.

Jamie McMurray may have broken up the party last season, but Johnson still finished sixth in the final segment of the 2014 race. With the speed clearly back in 2015 and momentum on his side after a win in Kansas, Johnson will be the million-dollar man again on Saturday night.

7. Underdog

Image courtesy of @FR78Racing.

Image courtesy of @FR78Racing.

It’s difficult to pin the underdog tag on any driver in the All-Star race because, well, they are all stars. Instead, we decided to go with a driver who has never won the premier event that can pull it off this weekend.

That, of course, led us to Martin Truex Jr. The Furniture Row Racing driver has done nearly everything this season except for win. Truex doesn’t have a spot guaranteed, but should earn a berth on Friday night. Once he gets there, expect Truex to fight his way to the front and make a push for his first victory in the All-Star race.

 

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