No All-Star event in any other sport - the MLB All-Star game, the NBA All-Star game, the NHL All-Star game, or the NFL Pro Bowl - generates nearly the kind of excitement found in the average NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. So it is no surprise that stock car racing's own star-studded night takes the meaning of "All-Star event" and ratchets it up a notch or twenty.
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star race has it all: thrilling late-race duels for the win, multi-car crashes, fistfiights, teammates threatening to kill one another, even the race winner going to the hospital after crashing across the finish-line. These ingredients all add up to create an event like none other in professional sports and certainly like none in all of auto racing.
The 2011 edition of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race gets underway tonight at 7:30 with the running of the Sprint Showdown, a last-chance race with two wild-card spots on the line for those drivers not yet in the All-Star lineup.
Once that is over, the field of 16 race winners from the 2010-11 seasons, two former All-Star race winners who haven't won a race since 2009, the top-two finishers in the Showdown, and the winner of the Sprint fan vote will be introduced to the crowd and the biggest All-Star show in all of sports will commence.
Kyle Busch has the pole for the 27th running of the Sprint All-Star Race. He also won the pole in 2008 and dominated the race's first segment before blowing an engine. The 26-year-old native of Las Vegas looks to become the first driver to take Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota to victory in an All-Star race. Busch will share the front row with Richard Childress Racing driver Clint Bowyer. The top-five is filled out by Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, and Mark Martin.
As for the Showdown, Georgia's own David Ragan leads the "best of the rest" as they do battle for two of the final three spots in the 21-car field. A.J. Allmendinger, Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, and Jeff Burton round out the top-five starters.
Visit Jayski.com for the starting grids for both the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race.
TV coverage of the Sprint All-Star Race begins at 7 p.m. on SPEED, but SB Nation Atlanta, the SB Nation NASCAR hub, and NASCAR Ranting and Raving are already revved up.