All-Star: Special event preview

* Defending champion Martin, LMS dominator Johnson head illustrious field * Two spots remain to be filled, via NEXTEL Open and NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Fan Vote * Three-segment all-star race features "Red Hot Pit Stop" ...

* Defending champion Martin, LMS dominator Johnson head illustrious field

* Two spots remain to be filled, via NEXTEL Open and NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Fan Vote

* Three-segment all-star race features "Red Hot Pit Stop" entertainment

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 16, 2006) -- Has there ever been a more anticipated NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge?

• Seven former all-star champions are in the 20-driver field Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway with a $1 million winner's purse on the line.

• Five drivers who have won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship are in the field, two of which also fall into the first category.

• Mark Martin (No. 6 AAA Ford) is making what could be his final all-star appearance, as he is retiring from NASCAR NEXTEL Cup after this season.

• Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is trying to become the sole holder of the record for all-star wins. He currently is co-holder of the record -- three -- with the late Dale Earnhardt.

• Martin, the race's defending champion, has a chance to tie the Gordon-Earnhardt mark.

• Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) comes in as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points leader, and already one of the most dominant drivers in the history of LMS, even though he's only been around since 2001. Johnson has won the last four series races at LMS and five of the last six. And don't forget his 2003 all-star victory.

• The all-star challenge's unique 90-lap/135-mile/three-segment format even has Super Bowl-style entertainment accompanying the actual competition. Between the first and second segments, fans will enjoy the "Red Hot Pit Stop" featuring a brief concert appearance by legendary rock group The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"I think it's nice to dedicate a weekend [like this] to the race fans," said reigning series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet). "We put on a race for them where we're not worried about points. We're all hanging it out every lap ... it's good to have one evening where we all just get up on the wheel and put on a good show for the fans."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin