NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race preview in 3 minutes

Jimmie Johnson sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star auto race in Concord, Friday, May 15, 2015.
Jimmie Johnson sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star auto race in Concord, Friday, May 15, 2015. AP

Everything you need to know about Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte, in three minutes:

Three things to watch

1. Jimmie Johnson has won the race four times, including two of the past three. He also won the race’s first $1 million prize, in 2003.

2. This is Jeff Gordon’s final attempt at picking up a fourth all-star win. He is retiring from full-time competition at season’s end. His most recent all-star victory came in 2001.

3. Kyle Busch makes his first start since suffering leg and and foot injuries in a February wreck at Daytona. He was fastest in Friday’s practice.

Observations

▪  Lots of talk this week about what can be done to the race to make it more exciting. Most of the talk operates under the assumption that the race is only exciting if it involves some confrontation between competitors or an accident on the track. Last year’s race featured neither but did see a daring race-winning pass by winner Jamie McMurray, who was a surprise winner in the event. Conflicts are definitely a part of NASCAR, but they shouldn’t define it.

▪  Each year, many drivers discuss the advantage of using the All-Star Race as sort of a test session but that couldn’t be truer for Kyle Busch, who returns this week after missing 11 races from a broken leg and foot. Since no private testing is allowed, this weekend is Busch’s only chance to run his No. 18 Toyota before next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600.

▪  Joe Gibbs Racing has never won the all-star race but its driver lineup this season – Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards – may provide the organization its best opportunity yet.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Jimmie Johnson: This is the “House that Jimmie Built,” and it’s time for a new addition.

Kurt Busch: Since returning from his three-week suspension, he and Kevin Harvick have consistently been the fastest cars each week.

Carl Edwards: Still looking for his first win at JGR and giving the organization its first all-star victory would be a good start.

He said it

“Every man is breakable. There’s obviously a risk factor that we take, but you pray to the good Lord that he keeps you safe and you go do your job.” – Kyle Busch

Notes

Double duty: While no driver is scheduled to run both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 races on the same day this year, at least one motorsports broadcaster is.

Doug Rice, president of Performance Racing Network, is set to become the first broadcaster to complete the double, covering the Indy 500 from pit road for the IMS Radio Network then co-anchoring the PRN broadcast of the Coca-Cola 600 later that evening.

Cause of fire determined: According to Robin Pemberton, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, a fastener bolt failed on a gas can, triggering a fuel spill and subsequent fire on pit road during last month’s Xfinity Series race at Richmond.

Three pit crew members were injured in the incident, which also accelerated NASCAR’s plans to require the use of additional safety gear for pit crew members beginning next month.

N@SCAR

Getting there

Race facts

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord.

Track type: 1.5-mile banked, paved oval.

Race distance: Five segments of 25, 25, 25, 25 and 10 laps.

Green flag: 9:31 p.m.

Weather: Partly cloudy with high in the mid-80s.

TV: Fox Sports 1.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

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