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2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race: An Annual History-Making Event

Saturday evening marks the 27th running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race,26 of which have been held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., while one was run right here in Georgia. Stock car racing's biggest night often brings out the best - and occasionally the worst - in the stars of the sport. Not one, single, solitary point is on the line. They're racing for pride, a trophy, and a really, really big check - $1 million, to be exact.

That often leads drivers to put themselves into positions they might usually shy away from when championship points were at stake. The result is generally some of the most exciting racing - and the largest garage area-turned-junkyard - of the entire season.

It is, in effect, an invitation-only event as well, open only to winners from the previous and current Sprint Cup season and past series and All-Star race champions from the last decade. That means that only the best of the best in stock car racing put on one of the best shows fans will see all year. As an attendee of the 2010 All-Star race, I can attest to that personally.

This year's event is televised on Speed Channel. Coverage will kick off at 7 p.m. with the Sprint Showdown, a last-chance race among ineligble drivers from which the top-two finishers transfer into the All-Star race. After that, the entire field of drivers already slated to start the event, the top-two drivers in the Showdown, and the winner of a national fan vote for the final spot in the field are introduced to the crowd along with their entire pit crew.

Finally, the boys get down to business as the green flag drops on the first of four segments.

For an entire list of the drivers eligible to run the event - along with those slated to run the Sprint Showdown - visit Jayski.com's All-Star race page. Also check out SB Nation's NASCAR hub and NASCAR Ranting and Raving for more news and information on stock car racing's All-Star night. And don't forget to come back to SB Nation Atlanta, where we will have a story elaborating on the title of this post: a race-by-race recap of some of the most exciting, daring, and disastrous moments in the event's history.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.