Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In the Rearview Mirror: Checkers or Wreckers at the All-Star Race

Perhaps one of my favorite races of the year is the Sprint All-Star Race because there are no points on the line and it's tagged as "checkers or wreckers." If you are not around to take the checkered flag, you better be on a wrecker headed home. With $1 million paycheck on the line, drivers and teams do whatever it takes to win.

A brief history:

First held in 1985, the Winston (now known as All-Star race) has been run at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year since then, except in 1986 when it was run at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The excitement of the race, with no points to lose, often leads to wild and crazy finishes and not to mention frequent crashes. A common occurrence, less than half the starting grid will be there to take the checkered flag.


Driver eligibility for the All-Star Race is quite simple: any driver who has won in the past season, any Sprint Cup champion from the past ten years, or winners of the All-Star Race from the past ten years.

In addition to the drivers already "seeded" into the race, three additional drivers will be added to the roster at the last minute. NASCAR fans vote in their favorite driver through the Sprint Fan Vote, and the top two drivers advance from the Sprint Showdown, a 40-lap preliminary run held immediately before the All-Star Race. Originally the Winston Open, it's two 20-lap segments with a break in between, and it is fast and furious.

The format:

Originally a 70-lap race with one pit stop required, the race format has seen many changes in the 27 years since the first Winston in 1985.

In 2012 we once again have some small tweaks to the format. An added bonus has been placed on winning each of the four 20-lap segments; segment winners will be first to head onto pit road during the mandatory pit stop before the final 10-lap shootout. 
“This new addition to the format is going to provide even greater incentive for the drivers to go all out to win one of the four segments,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition.

“It also puts even more focus on the pit crews and how they perform during that final pit stop. The team aspect of the sport will be highlighted more than ever and it helps set the stage for an exciting race and an exciting evening for the fans.”

Past winners:

Winners of the All-Star race are the Who's Who of NASCAR because to qualify you need to be a winner or voted in. Fans are surely not going to vote in driver X who starts and parks each week.

Darrell Waltrip captured the first Winston win in 1985 and since that time the list includes the names of Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt - who won three times, Rusty Wallace, two-time winner Terry Labonte, and three-time winner Jeff Gordon. Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin both have two wins at the All-Star race.

And this year the field remains wide open. Already qualified for the race are Trevor Bayne, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Regan Smith, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, David Ragan, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin. Additional entrants will be determined by the first- and second-place finishers of the Sprint Showdown and the winner of the Sprint fan vote will transfer into the All-Star main show.

There is still time left to vote, so head over to and vote for your favorite driver now.

Skirts and Scuffs will be live at the All-Star Race so stay tuned for a jam-packed week of coverage.


  1. Thanks for the brief history, Amanda!