All-Star Challenge procedures announced

Procedures Announced for 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 6, 2005) -- The 21st NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge returns on Saturday, May 21 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, with the winner collecting over $1 million...

Procedures Announced for 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 6, 2005) -- The 21st NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge returns on Saturday, May 21 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, with the winner collecting over $1 million during one of the season's most exciting evenings.

The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers who will compete that night have earned that distinction. The all-star event showcases race winners from the previous and current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup seasons, plus the winner of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Open, a preliminary event for teams not qualified for the all-star event, and another Open driver who wins a fan vote into the all-star event.

Other qualified participants include past event champions and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champions from the past 10 years (1995-2005) who are active drivers and have competed in at least one series event during the 2004 or 2005 season. Going into Sunday's Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway, 21 drivers have qualified for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.

The all-star evening begins with the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Open, a 30-lap sprint divided into two segments, the first 20 laps and the second 10 laps. Two Open drivers will transfer to the all-star event, one by winning the Open and the other by winning a fan vote. To qualify for the Nextel Open, drivers must be in the Top 50 of the final 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings, or in the Top 50 of the current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings as of March 14, 2005.

Next up is the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, the execution of which remains familiar: The 90-lap/135-mile event will be divided into 40-, 30- and 20-lap segments and no driver will be eliminated after the first two segments to give the full field a chance to compete in the final segment. But there is a competitive twist: During the 10-minute pit stop between the first and second segments, a random drawing will determine whether as few as six or as many as 12 cars will be inverted.

Defending champion Matt Kenseth leads the list of current qualifiers, followed by 2004 race winners Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeremy Mayfield, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace; 2005 race winners Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick; past event champions Terry Labonte (1999) and Michael Waltrip (1996); and past series champions Bobby Labonte (2000), Dale Jarrett (1999) and Terry Labonte (1996).

Fast Facts

What: 21st annual NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.
Where: Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.
When: Saturday, May 21, 7:30 p.m. (ET).

TV: FX, 7 p.m. (ET). WRadio: MRN/XM Satellite.

Posted awards: $4 million (approximate).

Race length: 90 laps/135 miles. WTrack layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.

2004 winner: Matt Kenseth.

Eligible drivers: Race winners from '04 and '05, past event champions, past NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champions, NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Open winner, Fan Vote Winner from Open.

Qualified drivers/cars as of April 6: Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Jeremy Mayfield, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, Rusty Wallace, Michael Waltrip, NEXTEL Open Winner, Fan Vote NEXTEL Open Driver.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin