Welcome race fans. This is the All-Star weekend. A No Points race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The winners race this weekend in an all-out, no points dash for one million dollars. The winners from last year and any winners this year will compete. But first the non-winners will race each other to get into the Sprint All-Star race in the Sprint Showdown. The top two in that race will get into the Sprint All-Star race. And the fans will vote in another driver. Last year the fans voted in Kasey Kahne and he went on to win the Sprint All-Star race.
The festivities began on Thursday with the Pit Crew Challenge. Jeff Burton’s #31 team won, with Reed Sorenson’s #43 team second. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is also here at Lowes Motor Speedway. So there are three short races this weekend. The Trucks got to practice for their Friday night race. And the winners and non-winners each got in a practice session. But weather was a factor in the festivities.
The Camping World Trucks started qualifying and got half-way through before the rain came and washed it out. So they lined up according to owner points for their race. Next came the non-winners to qualify. The race they are in is the Sprint Showdown. But the rain was still there, so they will line up according to how they drew for qualifying. See, they pick a ping-pong ball with a number on it. And that decides what order they will qualify. In this case they will line up according to their draw.
Qualifying for The All-Star Race is different than regular qualifying. Normally they run two laps around the track and line up according to speed. But since this is the Sprint All-Star race, they do things different. Qualifying is three laps with a pit stop in there for four tires. This challenges the pit crew as well as the driver. There is a 20 second penalty for speeding into the pits, but none out of the pits. After the qualifying run, Officials check lug nuts to make sure they are on tight. If they aren’t, they get a 5 second penalty.
Also included in the Sprint All-Star race, are past Champions in the last ten years who did not win, and past Sprint All-Star winners from the last ten years. Bobby Labonte is the 2000 Cup Champion and qualifies for the Sprint All-Star race in his #96 car.
16 Greg Biffle had loose lug nuts and was penalized. 11 Denny Hamlin broke a drive shaft exiting the pits and posted no time. 14 Tony Stewart left the pits after changing only two tires and had to back up into the pit stall to get the other two tires on. 5 Mark Martin got loose out of the pits from the transition between concrete in the pits and asphalt on pit road. 99 Carl Edwards had loose lug nuts, as did 18 Kyle Busch. 31 Jeff Burton was caught for speeding into the pits.
After all was said and done, 48 Jimmy Johnson will sit on the pole for the Sprint All-Star race. He completed three laps and a four-tire pit stop in just over two minutes. 2:01.41, to be exact. 31 Burton, winner of the Pit Crew Challenge had the fastest pit. Too bad he was caught speeding.
Last night the Camping World Trucks competed in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. There was a spectacular crash with 5 Mike Skinner colliding with the SAFER barrier and 11 T. J. Bell at the same time. That vaulted him onto his side and he slid like that across the track. He did land on the tires. Mike was the Points leader heading into the race. Officials had to repair the SAFER barrier. 51 Cup driver Kyle Busch knocked the leader 6 Colin Braun out of the way to send him spinning and was penalized for rough driving. Last year’s winner of this race 88 Matt Crafton took the lead after 51 was penalized. But 33 Ron Hornaday won the race. Kyle, in a Toyota, later said he couldn’t win because Chevys had more power than Toyotas. But at least he didn’t storm off this time because he didn’t win.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I’ll see you after the Sprint All-Star race.