Concord, NC (Sports Network) - It's a big weekend in auto racing. The stars of
NASCAR will shine under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and qualifying
for the Indianapolis 500 will take place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sprint Cup Series
NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race - Charlotte Motor Speedway - Concord, NC
With a possible $2 million payday for the winner and some recent changes in
the format, this year's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor
Speedway could be the most thrilling one in the event's 29-year history.
In previous years, at least $1 million went to the winner of the all-star
race. The same amount will be awarded to Saturday night's winner. But this
year's event has an added incentive. If a driver finishes first in all of the
four 20-lap segments and then takes the checkered flag for the final 10-lap
shootout, then that person will collect an additional $1 million.
NASCAR has made some format modifications, including a couple of tweaks
revealed earlier this week, that will add more excitement to both qualifying
and the race.
Friday's qualifying will consist of three laps and a mandatory four-tire pit
stop. However, a speed limit will not be enforced when a driver enters or
exits pit road during his or her qualifying attempt.
The number of laps in the five segments remains the same as last year. There
are a total of 90 laps equaling 135 miles.
One of the changes for this year's race is the running order at the completion
of the fourth segment (Lap 80), which will be repositioned based on the
average finish for the first four stints. The order will be placed directly
behind the caution car prior to the opening of pit road for a mandatory four-
tire pit stop. The starting lineup for the fifth segment will be determined by
the order of cars returning to the track from the pits.
Then it's a dash for a lot of cash when the green flag waves for the final
"It's just no holds barred," said Kyle Busch, who is one of those drivers
already eligible for the all-star race. "Go for everything, go for broke and
see what you get. Literally, it's going for broke, because you either come
home with a million bucks or you're broke, so it's a great race just for the
fans, I think, and for the drivers, because it's a non-points race. You get to
go out there and put everything on the line."
The field for the 2013 all-star race will consist of 22 drivers. Nineteen of
them have presently locked down a starting position. The top-two finishers in
the Sprint Showdown (40-lap preliminary race) will advance into the main
event. And the last spot will go to the winner of the fan vote. NASCAR
recently noted the fan vote driver has to finish the Showdown and his or her
car is in "raceable" condition as determined by Sprint Cup Series director
Danica Patrick, in her first full season as a Sprint Cup competitor, is the
favorite to win the fan vote, if she does not finish either first or second in
the Showdown. The rule change for the fan vote winner not having to finish on
the lead lap in the preliminary race could be beneficial for Patrick, since
she has finished on the lead lap in just two races this year -- the Daytona
500 and Martinsville. She was not eligible for the preseason event at Daytona
"I think about it from a fan's perspective, and I think you want the driver
you cheer for to be out there, of course, but you want a good race," Patrick
said. "Hopefully, they think of me when they think of those two. We always
have the opportunity to race in as well. We've been working really hard over
the last month on our mile-and-a-half car, and we need to. Let's hope it all
comes together by the all-star race."
Martin Truex Jr. is one of those drivers competing in the Showdown that has
won it twice (2007 and '10). Truex, who qualified for last year's Chase for
the Sprint Cup championship, has not won a points-paying race in NASCAR's top
series since June '07 at Dover. He has finished second in a race three times
within the past 13 months.
"Without a doubt, I feel like we should win that (Sprint Showdown)," Truex
said. "Anything less would be a disappointment. We're going there guns loaded,
trying to do all we can do, and hopefully, we'll come out on the right side of
it this time."
Jimmie Johnson, the current points leader, won the all-star race for the third
time last year. Johnson's other victories in this event came in 2003 and '06.
Busch has won the pole for this race the past two years. He finished second in
2011 and fourth in 2012. Busch also has led 14 or more laps in each of the
last seven events.
"I've been aggressive, and I've been maybe too aggressive at points and not
aggressive enough at other points," he said. "Last year, we just ran a clean
race and didn't really do much aggressive driving or anything, and we ended up
fourth. Maybe there was a little bit more that needed to be done, but overall
it was a good week there for us last year and also our second-place run in
Camping World Truck Series
North Carolina Education Lottery 200 - Charlotte Motor Speedway - Concord, NC
Matt Crafton heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway as the points leader in the
Camping World Truck Series and the most recent race winner -- April 20 at
Six days after his Kansas victory, Crafton's wife, Ashley, gave birth to their
first child, daughter Elladee.
"I need to get back to racing, so I can get some rest," Crafton jokingly said.
"I'm always excited to go to the racetrack. But usually you go to the
racetrack and you don't get much sleep, because you're worried about
everything the night before the race. You think about everything. This week,
I'm excited to get to the racetrack, so I can get some sleep."
Crafton currently holds a 13-point lead over second-place and ThorSport Racing
teammate Johnny Sauter, who won the first two races this season (Daytona and
Sauter held a 12-point advantage over Crafton after Kansas, but Sauter's No.
98 team was hit with heavy penalties from NASCAR for an unapproved fuel cell
discovered in his truck during opening-day inspection at that 1.5-mile
racetrack. Sauter and team owner Mike Curb were both docked 25 points. Crew
chief Joe Shear was suspended for four races, fined $10,000 and placed on
probation until Dec. 31.
Rookie Jeb Burton also trails Crafton by 13 points, but Sauter is second in
the standings by virtue of his victories.
Charlotte is the fifth event on the series schedule this year.
"I'm super-excited about this Charlotte race, even more than I usually am,"
Crafton said. "With all the momentum that the team's carrying into this race,
I know the guys are still on cloud nine from the Kansas win, and I'm up there
with them, from the win and having our child."
Crafton scored his first truck win in May 2008 at Charlotte. Kansas marked his
third career victory.
Thirty-eight teams are on the entry list for the North Carolina Education
Lottery 200. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are those Sprint Cup Series
regulars entered. Busch won this race in 2010 and '11 but did compete in last
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES
Indianapolis 500 Qualifying - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis, IN
Qualifications for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 take place this weekend, with
starting positions 1-24 determined during Saturday's "Pole Day," and the
remainder of the 33-car field set during Sunday's "Bump Day."
The first day of qualifying includes a five-hour segment (11 a.m. - 4 p.m. ET)
followed by the nine fastest drivers in that segment competing for the pole
position during a 90-minute shootout.
Ryan Briscoe won the pole for last year's Indy 500 in the slimmest of margins.
Briscoe beat James Hinchcliffe by only 0.0023 seconds, making it the closest
1-2 qualifying finish in race history. He posted a four-lap average of 226.484
mph to earn his first pole for the Indy 500.
Time trials for the 1970 Indy 500 featured a margin of 0.01 seconds between
pole winner Al Unser and second-place Johnny Rutherford.
Briscoe lost his ride with Team Penske at the conclusion of the 2012 IndyCar
Series season. Last month, Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Briscoe will
drive its No. 8 car in this year's Indy 500. He drove for Ganassi during the
2005 season, competing in 14 races.
"I just can't begin to tell you how excited I was when Chip gave me the call,"
Briscoe said. "It's great for me having this opportunity. Hopefully for next
year, we can try to be back here full time. You never know what is around the
next corner. You just have to keep with it and stay positive. I feel like I
have a place in IndyCar, and I just have to go out and do a good job."
The pole sitter for the Indy 500 has gone on to win the race 20 times, most
recently in 2009 with Helio Castroneves. Dario Franchitti won last year's Indy
500 after starting 16th.
Thirty-three drivers are currently on the entry list for the 97th running of
this event. Teams have been practicing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since
last Saturday, in preparation for both this weekend's qualifying and the May
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