Mash The Gas – Sprint All Star Race Preview

It’s All-Star Weekend on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit as the annual Sprint All-Star race, formerly known as The Winston, heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway with a ton of money on the line and no points or pressure. The event’s format breeds controversy with four short 20-lap segments and a final 10-lap dash for a million dollar payday almost certain to feature lay-it-all-on-the-line, hardnosed racing.

Kyle Busch-As witnessed earlier in the year in the similarly formatted Bud Shootout, Busch has the tallest win-at-all-cost attitude of the bunch and that desire should make him a factor in the closing laps this weekend unless he ruffles the other driver’s feathers early and gets turned around but then again as the Bud Shootout proved, it takes a lot to knock him out.

Jimmie Johnson-Johnson answers Kyle Busch’s hard charging style with what could be described as stern finesse he’s aggressive when it’s needed but is hardly ever wild He’s coming off his first win of the season and like all Hendrick Motorsports entries, this team always runs well at Charlotte.

Carl Edwards–Without any points to worry about, Carl Edwards is at his best as evidenced by his win in this race last year. The fact that he hasn’t found victory lane this year, makes him all the more determined this time around and the #99 car should be a factor Saturday night.

Tony Stewart-If it has four tires and a steering wheel, Tony Stewart will drive the daylights out of it and he’s not afraid to put you in the cheap seats if you mess with him. That’s the perfect attitude to have to win an event like the Sprint All-Star race and if it comes down to Stewart and Kyle Busch side by side on the final lap for the win, third place may not be all that bad a place to be in.

Greg Biffle-No one drives flat out all the time more than Biffle but his strong suit this season has been longer runs and this race is made up of four short segments. I have the feeling its checkers or wreckers with Biffle this weekend and he’s either in victory lane or on the hook.

Matt Kenseth-Like Biffle, Kenseth has been outstanding on longer runs this season and has found bad luck on the shorter all-out anything goes dashes (See Las Vegas). If the team can get the car strong enough on the short runs, Kenseth has the ability to mix it up with the best of them and if they make him mad early on Watch Out! He could win going away.

Denny Hamlin-Hamlin could score a ‘where did he come from’ victory Saturday night as this team has been one of the top performers this season while staying somewhat out of the limelight. Hamlin’s aggressive enough to not be left behind early and the main pressure is on the pit crew to get him out early enough for a prime starting spot for the final ten lap dash.

Kasey Kahne-Kahne has had success at Charlotte in the past and he’s behind the wheel of a Hendrick Motorsports car which makes him an automatic contender. Kahne has reeled off four straight top-ten finishes and the team appears to have shaken the bad luck that plagued them early in the season.

Kurt Busch-Kurt Busch certainly has the talent and ability necessary to win this event, but I think the team has had about all the tirades and wrecked race cars it can handle at the moment. A big question mark this weekend will be how well they work together following their disaster at Darlington last week.

Jeff Gordon-Gordon is the only active three-time winner of the Sprint All-Star race but his last victory was in 2001 (the year the field went green in a rain storm and wrecked in the first turn, resulting in all teams pulling out back up cars). However bad luck has followed Gordon this year he began the season upside down in the Bud Shootout and I don’t see him taking the chances necessary to pull off the win in this race. Maybe they should dust off the infamous T-Rex car

Dale Earnhardt Jr—If he doesn’t finish first or second in the Sprint Showdown to make the field, Dale Jr. is all but certain to win the fan vote and he will be racing in the main event. I think it will take some luck for him to win this weekend as quite frankly, there are too many better pure raw talent racers in the field for me to list him as a top contender.

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