Fuel and Tires

All about auto racing with Gazette staffer Dave von Falkenstein.

Fuel & Tires: NASCAR All-Star race, Indy qualifying, MIS season opener

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Dave von Falkenstein
May 14, 2015

There will be NASCAR all-stars in Charlotte this weekend, drivers going for records in Indianapolis and a season opener in our own backyard. Here's what's on tap:


This Saturday is NASCAR Sprint Cup's annual Sprint All-Star Race at the 1½-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. This is the 30th year for the race, which is a non-points paying race but does award the winner with $1 million.

—The race itself consists of four 25-lap segments and a 10-lap finale with only green flag laps counting in the finale. Prior to the main event is the Sprint Showdown on Friday, two 20-lap segment races featuring drivers not eligible for the All-Star Race. The winner of each segment will advance to the All-Star Race. Fans can also vote in one driver not eligible for the All-Star Race.

—Drivers eligible for the All-Star Race include all race winners from 2014 and 2015, all past All-Star Race winners and Sprint Cup champions, both Sprint Showdown winners and the Sprint fan vote winner. Get full details at jayski.com.

—As per usual, Jimmie Johnson holds the record with four wins in this race while Jeff Gordon has won it three times. Last year's winner was Jamie McMurray.

Kyle Busch is set to return to the No. 18 Toyota for his first race since breaking his right leg and left foot in a crash during the Xfinity Series opener in Daytona.

—Janesville native Travis Kvapil is on the entry list for the Sprint Showdown driving the No. 39 Hillman Smith Motorsports Chevrolet. Kvapil drives full-time in the Camping World Truck Series in the No. 50 Chevy for MAKE Motorsports.

—Coverage of the Sprint Showdown starts at 6 p.m. Friday on Fox Sports 1. The All-Star Race will air at 8 p.m. Saturday, also on Fox Sports 1.

—The Camping World Truck Series will race on Friday at Charlotte. The series has raced as a companion event to the All-Star Race since 2003, with Kyle Busch winning six of those races.

—Sprint Cup regulars in the field for the truck race include Kasey Kahne, driving in his first truck race since winning at Rockingham in 2012, David Gilliand and Brad Keselowski.

—Coverage for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 starts at 7 p.m. Friday on Fox Sports 1.

—The Xfinity Series has a stand-alone event at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. It is the seventh year for the series at the 0.875-mile oval, which will return to the track in August.

—Former IndyCar champion Sam Hornish Jr. won this race last year, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Hornish now drives full-time in the Sprint Cup Series for Petty Motorsports.

Ryan Reed is still the only series regular to win a race this season, but there are no Sprint Cup regulars on the entry list for this weekend. Look for points leader Ty Dillon to become the second series regular to win and try and extend his lead over Chris Buescher.

—Race coverage for the 3M 250 starts at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on Fox Sports 1.


Qualifying for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 runs Saturday and Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Drivers run four laps around the 2½-mile speedway and their average speed dictates where they will start.

—Time trials will be held Saturday with the fastest nine drivers advancing to the Fast Nine Shootout on Sunday. Positions 10-30 of the 33-car field will be locked in Saturday. If there are more than 33 cars attempting to qualify, any bumping will occur Sunday when positions 1-9 and 31-33 are locked in.

—With the new aerodynamic bodykits built by engine suppliers Chevy and Honda, many believe drivers will be close to, if not able to break, the track record set by Arie Luyendyk in 1996. His qualifying speed was 236.986 while his one-lap record was 237.498 mph. I don't think they'll quite get there, but I imagine qualifying speeds will be faster than last year's 231.067. If conditions are right, I bet the pole speed will be around 233 mph.

—Indiana native Ed Carpenter is looking to become the first driver in history to win three consecutive pole positions for the race.

Helio Castroneves had a scary moment in practice on Wednesday when he backed his car into the wall and flipped. Luckily, Castroneves was uninjured and returned to the track later in the day in a backup car.

—Other former pole-sitters attempting to qualify for the race this year include Castroneves, Alex Tagliani, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan.

—Television coverage of qualifying will air from 3-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-2 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Full coverage of qualifying will be streamed on indycar.com.


Madison International Speedway will hold its season opener on Friday night with NASCAR Late Models, Sportsmen Legends and Bandits taking the track. Racing begins at 7:30 p.m. with gates opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $10 seniors age 60 and older, $8 students ages 12-17 and $5 for kids ages 6-11. Adult fans can save $2 off admission by bringing an empty Pepsi product (limit one per admission). Tickets are available here.

Rockford Speedway will host NASCAR Late Models, American Short Trackers, Illini Midgets and Kickstart Road Runners at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 students ages 12-17 and $5 kids ages 6-11. Tickets are available here.

Jefferson Speedway will have racing at 7 p.m. Saturday with gates opening at 3 p.m. and time trials at 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 seniors age 65 and older, $8 students ages 12-15 and $4 kids ages 8-11.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this article.

Dave von Falkenstein is a digital content coordinator for The Gazette and an auto racing fan. Follow him on Twitter at @achtungvon or email him at [email protected].

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