Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, was the stage for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 Sprint Cup. The night was full of fast-paced action, with an exciting turn of events taking place as Jeff Burton took his No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to its limit to take home the winner’s trophy.
The race was exciting and had the phenomenal 160,000-strong crowd on the edge of their seats. Jeff Burton led the final 57 laps of the race, finally managing to beat 2nd place winner Kasey Kahne by just one second. Burton’s entire racing strategy was a gamble, but it paid off. This is his second victory this season and it has had even bigger implications for him in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. The win helped Burton gain 30 points on Jimmie Johnson, who only finished sixth in the race. Burton is now just 69 points behind Jimmie Johnson for the Sprint Cup and there are still plenty of races in the season for Burton to gain even more ground. Commenting on his move up on the Sprint Cup standings, Burton said: “People keep wanting to give the trophy to someone, but we’re only halfway through this chase, and it’s a long time from here to Homestead.” Indeed, contenders for the coveted Sprint Cup trophy are only five races into the ten-race chase. A lot can happen between now and then and Burton’s latest victory might give him quite a big psychological advantage over his chief rival.
Dodge driver Kurt Busch finished third and both he and Kasey Kahne were a surprise to fans who watched Johnson fade into the background after some stiff competition initially. Carl Edwards had an even more dismal race, crashing early and finishing a distant 33rd. Prior to the start of the race, Edwards had been second in the standings for the Sprint Cup, just 72 points behind Johnson. He will now have to work extremely hard if he wants to regain the ground he has lost. Sprint Cup contenders will be looking forward to driving at Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas, Phoenix and Miami during the second half of the challenge. A lot has already happened in the first half of the Sprint Cup challenge and it is impossible at this point to predict who will be taking the Cup home after the Miami finale.
This year’s International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony promises to be one to remember. Set to take place on the 24th of April 2008, the list of impressive achievements starts with those introducing the inductees.
The A-list of racing celebrities starts with Johnny Rutherford, the legendary three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 who also enjoyed 27 career victories. He will be joined by David Pearson who won the Cup Series championship on three occasions in only four years. By the end of his career he had 105 official Cup victories under his belt as well as a whopping 301 top-five finishes. Ned Jarrett will also be introducing an inductee. Besides winning the NASCAR Cup Series title in both 1961 and 1965, Jarrett is tied with Junior Johnson at 10th place on the all-time list with 50 Cup victories under his belt. What makes Jarrett’s accomplishments even more remarkable, was that he retired at just 34 years of age at the pinnacle of his success – the only NASCAR driver to ever do so. He was inducted into the Hall himself in 1991.
While he may not be a racing great, he is a great name in the racing world – H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s President and General Manager, will also enjoy the privilege of introducing an inductee. Wheeler is known for being one of the top promoters in the field and was the man responsible for enabling LMS to hold night races as well as being one of the first tracks to offer all the thrills and frills that most of us now consider to come standard with any good racing track. Other announcers include Jim Hunter – who served as the Public Relations Director and the Vice President of Corporate Communications for NASCAR at different times in his 40-year career in the industry – and Buddy Martin, who became a racing legend whose backing of Ronnie Sox enabled the pair to make it to the top of the Drag racing profession.
As if that wasn’t enough, the inductees for this year are: Art Arfons (land-speed record breaker), Robert â€˜Red’ Byron (NASCAR champion), Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins (a drag-racing genius), Frank Kurtis (leading car fabricator), Everett “Cotton” Owens (NASCAR owner and driver) and Ralph Seagraves (Winston promoter).
Certainly any fan of the racing industry would consider it a rare privilege to be under the same roof as all these racing greats. Any fans of the industry simply have to do their utmost to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event. So book your tickets now and start making your plans to attend this years Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. You won’t regret it!
The Sprint All-Star Race was first held in 1985 at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Previously known as the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the race has been held there every year, with the exclusion of 1986, and is the most anticipated event of the racing season. It is a race like no other, as no points are given and who ever makes it across the finish line first is the winner of approximately $1million. Drivers take more chances, and battles between drivers that lead to crashes are a common sight. It is a racing event filled with adrenalin, thrills and excitement.
After changing names from The Winston to the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and finally the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, one thing has remained the same, the champions and eligible drivers of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race come to Lowe’s Motor Speedway to do whatever it takes to win. The 2008 Sprint All-Star Race will be no different. Different drivers make the cut each year; but the challenge and non-stop action is always guaranteed.
To be eligible to race in the 2008 Sprint All-Star Race, drivers or owners need to fall within the required criteria. Firstly, to qualify, drivers must have won races either within the previous year or in the current year, and drivers who have won Cup Champions within the last ten years are also eligible for the Sprint All-Star Race. Drivers who have won the Sprint All-Star Race in the last ten years, as well as the winner of the Sprint Open are also eligible to take part. This year, drivers such as Matt Kenseth, Casey Mears, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Tony Steward and Juan Pablo Montoya have earned their place in this prestigious event.
A few changes have been made to the 2008 Sprint All-Star Race. The track has a length of 1.5 miles and drivers are required to complete a course of 150 miles, giving the race a lap total of a hundred laps. The race will therefore be divided into four segments of twenty five laps each, making the changes in fuel and tire wear add to the challenge of the race. Another change, is the fact that all drivers are forced to take fuel and change tires between the third and forth division, not giving them the “stop and go” option during this pit stop.
The changes to the racing format for the 2008 Sprint All-Star Race are going to add to the already heart stopping action that is seen here every year. On the 17th of May 2008, the showdown between the champions will commence and spectators will have to hold onto their seats as the racing action heats up the track.