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Charlotte announces changes to All-Star schedule

January 28, 2014, Taylor Starer, NASCAR.com

Sprint Showdown will now take place Friday night preceding the Truck Series race

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte Motor Speedway is changing it up this year as it hosts the 30th annual NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. On Tuesday, track president and general manager Marcus Smith announced the changes made to the May 16-17 NASCAR All-Star Race schedule, including moving the Sprint Showdown to Friday night.

The Sprint Showdown will now run on May 16, preceding the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 race.

Prior to the All-Star Race on Saturday, May 17, drivers will take to the track with a three-lap qualifying that will include a mandatory four-tire pit stop and no pit road speed limit. 

Country music musician Jake Owen will perform Saturday night before the green flag drops. The 90-minute concert will take place in the infield between Turns 1 and 2.

"In addition to watching the trucks battle on Friday night and rocking with a pre-race concert with Jake Owen on Saturday, fans will be treated to back-to-back nights of Sprint Cup Series action as drivers leave everything on the track with a $1 million payday on the line," Smith said. 

The changes to the schedule allows fans to watch both Cup and Truck Series drivers battle on Friday night, making it the only date on the schedule where both series are competing in non-qualifying contests on the same night at the same venue. 

Previous All-Star champion Kurt Busch was at the Tuesday luncheon and spoke on the upcoming changes. 

"This is the home of all the Sprint Cup teams and this is where a lot of the trends start in this garage area as far as how we promote things, how we adjust rules and how much fun we're going to have and how much beating and banging we're going to throw down for a million bucks," Busch said. "It's neat that this is in our backyard and to see how this theme is unfolding for this year's adventure."

Going into the All-Star Race, drivers can use the event to aid their season's efforts in different ways. 

"It's fun because you don't have to think about points, you can let all the rough edges drag," Busch said. "There's years when you're behind on your trends and your setups so you use this race as a test session. And then there's years where you're hot and things are going your way on the circuit and you come into this race as one of the favorites to bring home the million bucks. Then there's those years where you just come in and you treat it like a regular weekend, don't put too much hype into it because you can easily get wrapped up in the big firework display, the big screen, the excitement, the energy of a Saturday night non-points race. That year that I won I just tried to ignore the excitement value of it and focus as a competitor and to put myself in a top-five position. The years I expected to win, I was wrecked." 

Eligible drivers who win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race before the Sprint All-Star Race will be added to the field, as well as the top two finishers in Friday night's Sprint Showdown and the Sprint Fan Vote Winner.

"The All-Star race is very unpredictable and it always creates those big highlight moments, Busch said. "Charlotte challenges us in ways that other tracks don't, and that's why this track has always been deserving of the All-Star atmosphere." 

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