2004 All-Star Challenge revealed

NASCAR's all-star event, previously known as The Winston, will be called the Nextel All-Star Challenge when it motors into Charlotte on May 22. For the 18th consecutive year it will be held at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. A ...

NASCAR's all-star event, previously known as The Winston, will be called the Nextel All-Star Challenge when it motors into Charlotte on May 22. For the 18th consecutive year it will be held at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. A brief car-ride from where most Nextel cup teams, crews, and drivers reside.

The race is a jewel in the crown of Nextel's series sponsorship.

"The NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge is a marquee event for Nextel," said Michael Robichaud, senior director of sports and entertainment marketing for Nextel. "It has been one of the most exciting events on the schedule since its inception because drivers aren't competing for points -- they race for pride and a check for $1 million.

"That format has created some of the sport's greatest moments, which has made it a favorite for both drivers and fans. Our focus is to create an atmosphere that makes fans feel more connected to this all-star event than ever before."

The race will essentially remain the same with three segments comprising 90 laps. The first 40 lap segment advances the top-20 finishers to the second segment. The second thirty lap segment advances the top-14 racers who compete in the final 20 lap portion of the event.

There is also a vote by the fans on a random inversion of the field of anywhere between three and ten cars in the final portion of the event. Traditionally, fans have voted on the maximum amount of cars to invert.

Competitors for the event are chosen by one of the following methodologies: Drivers and car owners who have won races in either 2003 or 2004. Active drivers who have won the championship of NASCAR's premier series. Active NASCAR Nextel Cup Series drivers who have won the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge. The winner of the Nextel Open, a two-segment (20 laps/10 laps) preliminary event for teams who have competed, but not won, during 2003 or 2004.

Qualifying to participate this year are:
Race winners: Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet), Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford), Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford), Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet), Ricky Craven (No. 32 Tide Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie IRWIN Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet), Robby Gordon (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet), Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), Terry Labonte (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet) and Bill Elliott (No. 91 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge).

In addition:
Past series champion: Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge).
Past event champion: Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford).
Car owners: Joe/Rick Hendrick (No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet) and Ray Evernham (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge).

Jimmie Johnson is the defending winner of this event.

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Ricky Craven , Ray Evernham , Mark Martin