CHARLOTTE – It will be racing close to home for Lake Norman-area NASCAR Sprint Cup teams and drivers May 17.
They’ll step outside the weekly points races to compete in the 30th annual Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The winner will snag the $1 million prize. The event begins with 7 p.m. qualifying, followed by five segments: four 20-lap segments, and a 10-lap sprint.
The race will include 22 cars, including 19 all-stars, a fan vote winner, the Sprint Showdown winner and runner-up. The 19 drivers qualified by winning any points race since the beginning of 2013, being a past series champion or a past winner of this event.
Here’s a look at lake-area drivers who’ll compete:
• Greg Biffle – He’s guided the No. 16 3M Ford to top-6 finishes three times in the past five Sprint Cup Series races, but can the Mooresville resident transfer that success to a shorter race? He’s never had much success in the all-star event, with an average finish of 13th place.
• Kurt Busch – In 2010, the Mooresville resident won the pole and the all-star race. He’s had two top-five finishes, so he knows how to handle the format.
• Kyle Busch – He’s had all-star success in Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota, with three top fives and winning the pole three times, most among active drivers. He’s the best in average running position (sixth place) and driver rating (110.3).
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. – The Mooresville resident won this race in 2000, making him and Ryan Newman (2002) are the only drivers to win it in their rookie season. Earnhardt’s 11 top-10 finishes in the all-star race are most among active drivers.
• Denny Hamlin – The win at Talladega two weeks ago was a huge boost for this Cornelius resident, who missed the Chase last year. He could be a darkhorse in the all-star race, which he’s never won.
• Kasey Kahne – He won this event in 2008, but it’s been a tough Sprint Cup Series for the Mooresville resident this season. Last week’s third-place finish at Kansas hopefully snapped his slump. It was his first top-five finish in 2014. He’s consistently run well at Charlotte.
• Matt Kenseth – It’s been a modicum of all-star success for this Mooresville resident who drives for Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing. He won in 2004, has five top-five finishes and has won two poles.
• Brad Keselowski – A lot of eyes will be on the aggressive driver for Mooresville-based Team Penske. He’s been involved in a couple of crashes the past month or so that have angered other drivers. Love him or hate him, you’ll watch him.
• Joey Logano – The Huntersville resident driving the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske should be a factor. Logano’s average finish in all-star events is fourth place and he’s in the upper echelon of running position, driver rating and average green flag speed.
• Jamie McMurray – He’s 24th in the points standings and a non-factor in the Sprint Cup Series so far. The Mooresville resident doesn’t have much of an all-star history of success, so a good performance could springboard him into contention.
• Martin Truex Jr. – His track record in the all-star race isn’t great. Neither is the Moorseville resident’s bland 27th-place spot in the Sprint Cup Series standings. A definite longshot.