Friday, May 16, 2008

The NASCAR All-Stars: Part 4

Continuing the overview of the drivers locked into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge, Saturday, May 17, at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Driver: Mark Martin
How did he get in? Two-time event winner, 1998 and 2005.
All-Star History: Martin's first All-Star event was The Winston in 1991 where he finished thirteenth. His first All-Star win came in 1998, when he led twenty-four laps and beat Bobby Labonte by .424 seconds. His second win was in 2005, when he beat Elliott Saddler by .582 seconds. His worst finish was in 1995, when he finished eighteenth after being involved in a crash with Todd Bodine and Dale Jarrett. He also finished eighteenth in 2002 when his engine gave out on lap 51. He has participated in every All Star main event since 1991.

Driver: Casey Mears
How did he get in? NASCAR Cup race winner at Lowe's Motor Speedway, in May 2007
All-Star History: Casey Mears' first All-Star race was in 2007, as the new driver of a qualifying race winning car, the #25 of Hendrick MotorSports. He finished eighteenth, being involved in a crash with Denny Hamlin on lap 63.

Driver: Juan Montoya
How did he get in? Montoya was a race winner last year at Infineon Raceway (Sears Point).
All Star History: This will be Montoya's first All Star Race.

Driver: Ryan Newman
How did he get in? Former event winner (2002), winner of the 2008 Daytona 500.
All Star History: In 2002 Newman won the second qualifying round, the "No Bull Sprint" last chance qualifier, and went on to win The Winston, becoming the only racer in history to win the main event after winning the last chance qualifier. He led seventeen laps and barely held off a hard-charging Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .158 seconds at the finish line.
His worst finish was in 2003, when he finished nineteenth, but his most disappointing All Star run had to be in 2005, when he got tangled with team mate Rusty Wallace as the final segment began. He had led 45 laps, and the incident began a long feud between the team mates.

Driver: Tony Stewart
How did he get in? NASCAR Cup Champion in 2002 and 2005. Three time Cup Series race winner in 2007.
All Star History: Stewart's first All Star Race was in his Rookie year in 1999 when he won the Winston Open to transfer in to The Winston. He finished second to Terry Labonte. In 2000, Joe Nemechek tried to retaliate against Steve Park on lap 62, wrecking them both and catching Stewart and Jeff Gordon in the wreck as well.
Stewart's worst finish was in 2005, when Nemechek tangled with another driver, Kevin Harvick, also causing a multiple car accident on lap 35, involving Stewart, Terry Labonte, Michael Waltrip, and Martin Truex, Jr.
In 2006, Stewart and Matt Kenseth crashed after seventy-two laps. They had some harsh words for each other after the incident, but, in spite of talks of a rivalry, Stewart's and Kenseth's friendship continued, and Stewart went forward with his plans to participate in a charity event at a track owned by Kenseth's father later in the year.
Tony Stewart has yet to win an All Star main event.

Driver: Martin Truex, Jr
How did he get in? 2007 race winner (Dover)
All Star History: In 2005, Truex became the second driver to be voted in to the NASCAR Nextel All Star Challenge (Ken Schrader was the first in 2004), and he finished twenty second after being involved in the grudge-match wreck between Harvick and Nemechek. In 2007 he won the Nextel Open and finished tenth in the Nextel All Star Challenge.
2005 brought much criticism to the fairly new practice of the fan vote selecting the final starter for the main event, as Truex had only four Cup Series races to his credit at the time, and was voted in because of his association with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. But, in winning the 2007 Nextel Open, he proved himself, and had a respectable finish in the main event that year. Later, in 2007, he won his first Cup Series points race at Dover.

These are the twenty one drivers who will start in the top twenty one positions for Saturday Night's shootout. My memory is not that great, so if anyone wishes to correct me on, or add to, anything I have written in any of the four parts of this overview, please feel free to do so in the comment section. Corrections are very welcome and will not make me feel bad.


Tim Zaegel said...

I really like Mark Martin this weekend as a sleeper to win the race. I just still have trouble forecasting wins from DEI.

RevJim said...

I need to clarify one thing on this post. Ryan Newman was the only driver to win the No Bull Sprint Race qualifier, and go on to win the main event. There was no more "last chance" No Bull Sprint race after 2002, so that record stands. Michael Waltrip qualified for The Winston in 1996 as the fifth place finisher in the Winston Open, when the top five finishers from that race transfered in to The Winston. He won the main event in 1996, and was the first driver to transfer in from the qualifying race and win the main event.