It's that time of year again. Everyone around the country is beginning to uncover their grills and cleaning out the coolers to get ready for Memorial Day Weekend, which will mark a welcomed beginning to Spring for many race fans who had a long and cold winter. For NASCAR fans, dreams of their drivers winning the Coca-Cola 600 will soon be upon them, however, prior to that fans get to enjoy the week of All-Star festivities that will begin next weekend as the Sprint Cup Series will run their annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star race.
Having their driver in the All-Star race for many race fans is about bragging rights. To say your drivers in the race where all the best stock car racers in the country compete is something you look forward to from the beginning of the year. In the 2014 season, that fact is no different.
There is so much potential for drivers to make lasting memories in the All-Star race. Who can forget the inaugural Winston, almost 30 years ago now, when Darrell Waltrip and Junior Johnson took home a fancy $200,000 then had an engine mysteriously let go right as they crossed the start-finish line. Who can forget just two years later when Dale Earnhardt and Bill Elliott had one of the most controversial incidents in NASCAR history when Earnhardt made a moved known as the "pass in the grass," although no official pass occurred. Who can forget the 1989 running of what was then known as the Winston. Coming off of turn four Rusty Wallace got into Darrell Waltrip and took him out sending Waltrip into a spin. Wallace, meanwhile, was on his way to victory lane and the bank, winning $200,000. Waltrip was furious and a fight erupted between both teams. And then there was the first race under the lights in 1992 where Davey Allison and Kyle Petty crashed at the finish, leaving the winner, Allison, badly injured.
Since then there have been plenty of memories that have lived in race fans minds forever. The All-Star race has been won by big named drivers, like Gordon, Earnhardt, Waltrip, Elliott and Stewart. It has also been won by rookies like Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. There are still plenty of drivers who have not yet locked themselves into the 2014 All-Star race that will be looking to do that this weekend at Kansas Speedway.
Hometown favorite Clint Bowyer will be one of those drivers. Bowyer, who has ran in the All-Star race five times in his career, has the pressure on him. Bowyer has made 11 career starts at Kansas Speedway and has finished in the top five just two times. Bowyer would need to do better than that to lock himself into the Sprint All-Star race.
Also yet to be locked into the All-Star race are two rookie drivers, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon. Larson will be making his first career Sprint Cup Series start at Kansas Speedway this weekend. He's run one NASCAR Nationwide Series race there and finished 30th. Larson's going to need to learn the racetrack fast if he wants to qualify for the Sprint All-Star race.
Austin Dillon's had a little bit more experience at Kansas Speedway. He made his first career Sprint Cup Series start at the racetrack back in October 2011. He has two top ten finishes in both of his NASCAR Nationwide Series starts and even has two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts in his career at the track.
For both of those drivers it would be remarkable for them to come out and win at Kansas although both have shown the ability to come out and adapt to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race cars really fast.
Those three drivers aren't the only ones looking for victories. Both Marcos Ambrose and his teammate Aric Almirola have looked fast at points in the season. It wouldn't totally be out of the realm of possibility to see either one of the Richard Petty Motorsports' cars in victory lane. Fellow Ford driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr, who raced his way into the All-Star Race a year ago, are looking to get into the Sprint All-Star Race as well.
Even Casey Mears and A.J. Allmendinger have showed some promise this season.
Whether or not either one of the afore mentioned drivers win at Kansas or not, you can bet it's going to be a whale of race in the Sprint Showdown.
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