Friday, May 21, 2010
It's All-Star Week, a time to celebrate our sport in the hub of NASCAR - Charlotte, N.C.
Fans flock to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the week's activities that build up to the main event, Saturday's 26th annual Sprint All-Star Race. The 1.5-mile quad oval will also host the Coca-Cola 600 next week.
Friday's events include qualifying for the Sprint Showdown and Sprint All-Star Race. Later that evening, the Camping World Truck Series takes to the track for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. Ron Hornaday is defending race winner.
Then on Saturday night, it's time to get down to business. Forget about points racing. At the Sprint All-Star Race, it's bragging rights and a cool $1 million that are on the line. It's every driver for himself, and often times sheet metal is the casualty.
Eighteen drivers who either 1) won a Sprint Cup race in 2009, 2) won a Sprint Cup race this season or 3) won the All-Star Race in the last 10 years will compete in the main event. Drivers not eligible for the All-Star Race will try to race their way in through the Sprint Showdown. The first-place and second-place finishers will advance. A third driver will be determined by the fan vote.
Tony Stewart took the checkers at last year's All-Star event, his first win as an owner/driver. Will he get his first win of 2010 on Saturday?
Sam Hornish won the 2009 Sprint Showdown, with Jamie McMurray finishing second, and Joey Logano was the fans' choice. With McMurray and Logano already set to be in the All-Star Race, who'll get in through the Showdown and fan vote? Stay tuned.
The weekend culminates with the induction of the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Sunday. Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Junior Johnson, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt make up the first class.
The following is a handy guide to track events and television coverage this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (All times are in Eastern Standard Time):
Friday, May 21:
9:00 a.m. Truck practice, SPEED
10:20 a.m. Truck practice, SPEED
12 noon Sprint Cup - Showdown practice, SPEED
1:30 p.m. Sprint Cup - All-Star practice, SPEED
3:00 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
3:30 p.m. Truck qualifying, SPEED
5:00 p.m. Sprint Cup - Showdown qualifying, SPEED. All-Star qualifying starts at 6 p.m. (rerun at 11:30 p.m.)
7:30 p.m. Truck SetUp, SPEED (rerun at 2 a.m.)
8:00 p.m. Truck race: North Carolina Education Lottery 200, SPEED. Green flag: 8:19 p.m. (rerun at 2:30 a.m)
10:30 p.m. Trackside. Guests: Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Alan Gustafson, Junior Johnson. (rerun at 5 a.m.)
Saturday, May 22:
10:00 a.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2
4:00 p.m. All-Star NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED
7:00 p.m. Sprint Cup race: Sprint All-Star Race, SPEED. Sprint Showdown to start at 7:30 p.m. All-Star Race starts at 9 p.m. (rerun at midnight)
11:00 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED (rerun at 4 a.m. Sunday and 2 a.m. Monday)
Sunday, May 23:
12 noon NASCAR Hall of Fame: Red Carpet Arrivals
1 p.m. NASCAR Hall of Fame: Induction Ceremony
Top photo: Sprint All-Star Race program cover artwork by Sam Bass. (Courtesy of NASCAR Media)
Right photo: Tony Stewart crosses finish line at 2009 All-Star Race. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)