Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The NASCAR All Stars: Part 3

Continuing the rundown of the 21 drivers locked in to the NASCAR Sprint All Star Challenge, May 17, at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Driver: Dale Jarrett
How did he get in? Being the 1999 NASCAR Cup Series Champion is what qualifies Jarrett for this particular race. This race will be Jarrett's final run in a Cup Series car as he retires.
All Star History: Dale Jarrett's first All Star Race was The Winston, in 1992, in which he finished eighteenth. He has participated in every All Star Race since then. His worst finish was 26th, in 2002, after a lap 15 crash that included Rusty Wallace, Bobby Hamilton, and Sterling Marlin. His best finish has been second place, where he finished in both 2000 and 2001. He ran with Joe Gibbs Racing in the All Star races from 1992 until 1995, when he began driving a Ford for Robert Yates Racing. In 2007, he drove a Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Driver: Jimmie Johnson
How did he get in? Two time Series champion, in 2006 and 2007, All Star event winner in 2003 and 2006, and winner of 10 Cup races in 2007 and one in 2008.
All Star History: Johnson's first All Star race was The Winston in 2002, after winning at California Speedway that year. He finished fifth, then and in every All Star race since then, with the exception of 2004, Johnson has finished in the top five, including last year's, when he was barely beaten by Kevin Harvick by .141 seconds. In 2004 he was involved in a crash on lap 53 and finished seventeenth.

Driver: Matt Kenseth
How did he get in? 2003 NASCAR Cup Champion (he was the last Winston Cup Champion), won two races in 2007 (California and Homestead)
All Star History: Kenseth's first All Star Race was The Winston in 2001, where he finished fourteenth, his worst finish in the event. He was the first Nextel All Star Challenge winner in 2004, when he beat Ryan Newman by .571 seconds. In 2006, he finished eleventh after being involved in a wreck with Tony Stewart. Since this was before Kyle Busch became the new most hated driver, the wreck was Tony Stewart's fault, as he was the most hated driver at the time.

Driver: Bobby Labonte
How did he get in? 2000 NASCAR Cup Champion.
All Star History: Labonte's first All Star race was The Winston in 1996, where he finished 13th. His best finish was in second place the next year, and was repeated in 1998, when Mark Martin beat him by a slim margin of .424 seconds. His worst finish was in 2007, in the 21st position after he crashed on lap 41. In 1999, his brother Terry won the main event, but Bobby was involved in a lap eleven crash that took out many of the favorites and front-runners, including Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Ernie Irvan, Jeff Burton, and Ricky Rudd.

Driver: Jamie McMurray
How did he get in? Winner of the July race at Daytona in 2007.
All Star History: McMurray earned his way into the last running of The Winston in 2003, after stepping in for the injured Sterling Marlin in 2002, and winning at Lowe's in the fall. He finished 22nd in 2003, when the format of the feature race included eliminations in rounds one and two. He finished 18th in his second All Star race in 2005, qualified by virtue of an eligible owner's championship for the #96 car, for which the number was changed to 26 because of bad feelings between owner Jack Roush and former driver Kurt Busch. He was involved in the lap 48 crash that year that included Kasey Kahne Jeremy Mayfield, Mark Martin, and Kyle Busch.


Mike said...

Great stuff Jim. I don't usually watch the all-Star race (no Speed) but this paints a great picture.

Tim Zaegel said...

You bring up a good point, Mike ... I'm surprised that NASCAR would choose to air the race on a network that a lot of fans don't seem to get.

RevJim said...

Tim, I'm not John Daly, but I believe the networks pay NASCAR for broadcast rights, so I don't think NASCAR has a say in network scheduling, other than that the races are broadcast as per the agreement. It was up to Fox, not NASCAR as to whether to broadcast a non-points race on the main network, or on one of the subsidiaries. I'm assuming that Fox had a prior commitment to broadcast an MLB game Saturday night, so the race was scheduled in the contract to be broadcast on Speed.
It is unfortunate that it isn't broadcast on a more widely distributed network, but I don't think there was a choice on NASCAR's part.
But, as I said, I'm not John Daly, so I really don't know if my assumptions are corredt.