Jimmie Johnson has profited very well from the all-star race. Johnson holds the record for most wins in it with four, including victories the past two years. In 2013, he joined Davey Allison as the only drivers who have won this event in back-to-back years. Allison accomplished the feat from 1991-92.
"If we were able to win a third consecutive all-star race, that would be something," Johnson said. "I would love to have that honor."
Johnson, the six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion, has yet to win a race this season.
In 2003, Johnson won the all-star event and then scored his first victory in a points-paying race that season the following weekend in the 600-miler.
"Momentum is very helpful, and a race win does a lot for teams," he noted. "I think we've been knocking on the door throughout the year. It would be a nice boost, shot in the arm for the team if we were able to do so."
The field for the 2014 all-star race will consist of 22 drivers. Nineteen of them, including Johnson, have presently locked down a starting position. The top-two finishers in the Sprint Showdown (40-lap preliminary race) and the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote will also advance into the main event.
This year, the Sprint Showdown will take place on Friday night, prior to the 200-mile Camping World Truck Series race here. The Sprint Fan Vote winner will be announced immediately after the showdown. The preliminary race had been run on Saturday night in the past.
Qualifying for the all-star race will be held on the same day as the event. The total elapsed time from three laps around this 1.5-mile track and a four- tire pit stop (with no pit-road speed limit) will determine the starting lineup. For the first time, the top-two finishers in the showdown and the fan vote winner will participate in qualifying rather than automatically start from the rear of the field.
The format for the all-star race remains the same from last year.
Segments 1, 2 and 3 are each 20 laps, and all laps are counted. Drivers can pit during the caution period between each segment, but those who do will not retain their position on the track.
Segment 4 is 20 laps as well, will all laps counting. Running order at the completion of this segment will be repositioned based on the average finish of the first four segments. A mandatory four-tire pit stop then follows, with the order of cars returning to the track determining the starting order for the final 10-lap dash to the finish.
Only green-flag laps will be counted in segment five.
With a million dollars on the line, it's no holds barred during the 10-lap shootout.
"It definitely changes things," Johnson said. "I think people are willing to take more risks and opportunities if they're there. You're really looking from second to first. I think second place, if he's in reaching distance of the leader, will certainly do what he can for $1 million and no implications in points."
Jeff Gordon, who is Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, has won the all-star race three times, but it's been 13 years since his last victory in it. Gordon claimed his first win of this season last weekend at Kansas Speedway.
"I love racing at Charlotte, and to be at home and race, it's just one of those races where you go all-out, and it's more about pride and honor and just kind of showing your competitors what you can do, so we're going to be pushing really, really hard to follow this [win at Kansas] up with a great performance there," Gordon said.
Twenty-three drivers are on the entry list for the Sprint Showdown, including rookies Michael Annett, Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Ryan Truex and Cole Whitt. Danica Patrick, entered in the showdown as well, won the fan vote last year. Patrick posted her career-best finish in Sprint Cup with a seventh-place run at Kansas.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Saturday, May 17. Race: NASCAR Sprint All- Star Race. Site: Charlotte Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 9:10 p.m. ET. Laps: 90. Miles: 135. 2013 Winner: Jimmie Johnson. Television: FOX Sports 1. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.