It's another dose of Saturday night racing on tap this weekend as 25 of NASCAR's top drivers battle in Charlotte for three-million dollars in prize money and a lot of bragging rights.
"The Winston" is 90 laps of wild racing which features only past champions and race winners. All drivers are eligible to run The Winston Open, a 30-lap qualifying race for the main event, but only the winner of that heat race will advance into the all-star Winston race.
The Winston Open will be run in two segments. The first 20-lap segment will determine which drivers advance to the last ten-lap shootout. Only 14 cars will be allow to continue for the last ten laps of that race and only green flag laps will be counted for the final run to the checkered flag.
The winner will take his place at the back of the main event field and that's when the real fireworks normally begin. There are no concerns about losing points in the special exhibition race and that can lead some drivers to adopt a policy of taking a chance on maneuvers they might not even consider when worrying about how a crash might effect their position in the point standings.
The Winston will be a 90-lap race split into three segments. The first segment is a 40-lap run where drivers will be required to make a four-tire pit stop. The last five cars on lap 40 will be sent to the garage and the remaining 20 will line up for a 30-lap run.
The field will be whittled down again after the second segment and only 14 drivers will remain for final 20-lap portion of the all-star run. Caution flag laps count in the first two segments, but in the final segment only green flag laps will count toward the 90-lap conclusion. That assures a green flag finish in the special event.
The winner of the final shootout takes a million dollars home and $50,000 will be handed over to the winners of the first two segments. If the same driver leads all three parts of the race he'll be sent home with a three million dollar paycheck.
Drivers already eligible for The Winston by winning events this year and last year include Ward Burton, Matt Kenseth, Sterling Marlin, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd, Michael Waltrip, Kevin Harvick, Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Johnny Benson, Ricky Craven and Joe Nemechek.
Awesome Bill Update: Saturday night will be Bill Elliott's 18th run in The Winston all-star race. Elliott has only missed one of the special events since the inception of the race in 1985. That missed race was due to injuries Elliott sustained at Talladega in the 1996 season. Bill has one win, six top-five and 13 top-10 finishes on his stat sheet from the special all-star race.
Jawga Boys: The two Georgia drivers in the St. Louis Busch Series race had respectful runs last weekend. Stockbridge's Joey Clanton started 35th and finished 15th in his TrimSpa-sponsored Pontiac at Gateway International Speedway. Rockdale County's Ron Young started 25th and finished 18th in the event.
Herb Emory, host of the Allan Vigil 120 racing show on WSB AM-750, is a guest columnist for The Daily.