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Head2Head: Which driver will win way into All-Star Race?

April 25, 2011, , NASCAR.com

With just three races remaining before the All-Star race, there are plenty of fan favorites who have yet qualified for the $1 million exhibition event. The good news is, those drivers can punch their ticket if they are able to win at Richmond, Darlington or Dover.

Who will win his way into the All-Star Race?

JEFF BURTON DALE EARNHARDT JR.

This hasn't been the season Jeff Burton was hoping for, but if there is one guy that could win his way into the All-Star Race the next three weeks, it's him.

After a horrific start, Burton has finished 16th or better in three of the past four races, so the No. 31 team is turning things around. Burton was not going to struggle all season long, and the proof is this past month.

Plus, Burton won't make the Chase on points ... so he is going to have to be more aggressive and race for wins. The same can't be said for Caraviello's pick. As we saw at Talladega, Junior was more than happy pushing instead of going for the win. Junior has bigger picture on his mind. Burton, there is no bigger picture -- just wins.

Then there are the upcoming tracks. Burton has won on all three tracks remaining before the All-Star break. He has a win at Richmond, two at Darlington and one at Dover. Last year, Burton finished no worse than 13th in the five races at the three tracks -- including runner-up finishes in both races at Dover. Burton's average finish at those three tracks last season was a stout 5.8.

Earnhardt didn't post a top-15 at any of those tracks last season, and in fact, finished 27th or worse in four of the five races. You have to go back to 2008 to even find a top-10 for Junior at those three tracks.

In the year of Trevor Bayne ... Burton might just shock all of us with a surprise victory before the All-Star Race.

Bill Kimm, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Three points races remaining until the Sprint All-Star exhibition at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21 mean three more opportunities for some driver to win his way into the $1 million event. And of those drivers still not qualified, one stands out above the rest. He's been knocking on the door week after week, and it seems only a matter of time before Dale Earnhardt Jr. breaks through.

Forget the 101-race winless streak, forget the expectations, forget the bubble of attention that Junior lives and works in every day. It's time to begin viewing this clinically -- here we have a driver who competes for a team that's won the past five championships in NASCAR's premier division, who has finished worse than 12th in only one event this season (that due to a cut tire in a Daytona 500 he could have won) and who currently stands third in points. Oh, and he's tallied three consecutive finishes of ninth or better going into Richmond, one of his better tracks.

Put any name on those statistics, and you'd have to like the chances. Of course, the fact that it's Earnhardt blows everything up to ridiculous levels.

The other drivers not qualified don't face the constant refrain of "will he win this week?" Junior does, and it sometimes obscures the progress he's made. Sure, he'd almost certainly win the fan vote if need be. But with the way his numbers have been trending, he may not need to wait that long to get in.

David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

So, which driver will race his way into the All-Star Race? Will it be a veteran like Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jeff Burton? Will it be an up-and-comer like A.J. Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose or Paul Menard? Maybe Brian Vickers? Regan Smith? Brad Keselowski? Bill Kimm and David Caraviello pick their guy, read their choices and weigh in with your own in the comments below.