$1 million reasons to love Sprint All-Star

May 13, 2008 7:00 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts |

Roberts Top 5 At All-Star
1. #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr
2. #18 Kyle Busch
3. #99 Carl Edwards
4. #11 Denny Hamlin
5. #20 Tony Stewart
TOP 10s
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Saturday Night the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams begin a stretch where most of them will likely be home for close to three weeks. Just about everyone involved with a NASCAR Cup team lives around the Charlotte area.

This week is the NASCAR All- Star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and then the following week they’ll run the Coca-Cola 600 on the same track before heading to Dover on June 1. The trip from last week’s race at Darlington is less than two hours so everyone should be relaxed, comfortable, and well-rested for the next few weeks.

The format for the All-Star race is set to ensure the winners from the last year are all involved. There is a qualifying race that allows for some of the lesser drivers to race their way in, plus a fan vote that allows for one driver to be voted in.

In all, there are 24 drivers that will be participating for their share of the $3.3 million purse. The winner of the event will win over $1 million. Needless to say, that kind of cash will not produce the traditional type of All-Star game like other sports have where everyone goes through motions, smiling and joking with each other.

The stakes are so high in this one that the only loyalty a driver has on the track is for himself. There are no teammates, friends or family.

Last season in this race, Kyle Busch wanted to win so bad he pushed his car to the limit until ultimately wrecking into his brother Kurt, ending the race for both. That one scene of two brothers crashing into each other is the perfect synopsis of what this race is all about.

To narrow down the top candidates to win, we have to begin looking at the races of Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Texas because of how similar Charlotte is to those three facilities. Whoever had things figured out in those three races will be on their game this week for the All-Star race as well as next week in the Coca-Cola 600.

The list of top drivers in those races begins with Carl Edwards who won at Las Vegas and Texas. The Jack Roush team really has things figured out on the high-banked 1½-mile tracks. Last season it was Jimmie Johnson who dominated, while the previous year it was Kasey Kahne.

Edwards will definitely be the driver to beat and he’ll likely win the Coca-Cola 600 next week. However, this race seems like it’s destined to be controlled by either Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Kyle Busch.

Junior won the Bud Shootout and a Gatorade Duel at Daytona and hasn’t won a real race in 73 starts.

So we’ll go with Junior to win the race because of his attitude and his car, which is a pretty good one. At Vegas, Junior finished second to Edwards. In Atlanta, Junior was third and in Texas he was 12th. He won this race as a rookie in 2000 and was chosen to do so by Lowe’s Motor Speedway president, Humpy Wheeler.

Wheeler has picked 10 of the last 19 winners in the All-Star race, but is in a two-year slump. Wheeler is supposed to reveal his choice on Wednesday and we’ll definitely be taking notes on it here in Las Vegas. I’ll say Humpy breaks out of his slump and chooses Junior.

NASCAR contest

NASCAR’s Last Man Standing contest is revving up again. After several requests from fans around the city, the Fiesta Rancho and Henderson sports books will be offering another Elimination contest with the same rules. The contest begins May 25 with the Coca-Cola 600 and runs through the end of the season, or until one person remains.

The first contest had over 400 entrants and took 11 weeks for the eventual winner to be decided. The format is simple. Just pick one of the 10 matchups listed each week. If the pick is correct, you get to move on to the following week. The sign-up fee is $25. If you buy three you get one free. The Grand Prize is a guaranteed $10,000.

Indy 500 odds

Station Casinos Sports Books opened their odds on the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Monday, the latest that they have opened Indy 500 odds in 10 years. The reason cited was that there is no fan interest and no one has asked for it.

SC venues posts odds on every Indy race during the season with minimal action and only a small fraction of what is generated by NASCAR. Ganassi teammates, Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon, were installed as 9-2 co-favorites.

Danica Patrick is listed as the seventh choice at 12-1.

Micah Roberts is a Race and Sports Director with Station Casinos who has contributed to GamingToday for the last 11 years.