The All-Star Race is a NASCAR fan's dream, a 100-lap sprint with no points, only millions in prize money at stake. That's enough to spark fireworks in the final 10-lap sprint to the checkers, a 5-minute, hold-your-breath experience where even brotherly love won't get in the way of first place. No one knows that better than Kurt and Kyle Busch , whose legendary wreck in 2007 paved the way for Kevin Harvick 's win while leaving a family feud in its wake that took months to fix. "It was my little brother and he was on the gas," said Kurt afterward. "He was racing hard. A million bucks were up for grabs, and I'm sure that's why he didn't lift and I'm sure that's why I didn't give an inch."
2 of 10Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR
The four-time NASCAR champ has been struggling to get to Victory Lane as of late, enduring eight runner-up finishes since his last win at Texas in April 2009. But that's good enough to get him into a race he dominates unlike any other as the 38-year-old seeks an end to a 41-race victory drought. His three wins in the All-Star Race are a NASCAR record, and he's long overdue for a fourth: the last of them occurred in 2001.
3 of 10Fred Vuich/SI; AP
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
The sport's Most Popular Driver hasn't won since Michigan in June 2008, but sneaks into the All-Star Race on a technicality: He's a former champion of the event. That was the last of a three-win rookie season that left his father, the late Dale Earnhardt , hugging him with joy in Victory Lane. The Intimidator's son has hardly been intimidating since; he's led just 23 laps in the last nine All-Star events. But after getting stuck in a slump that's left him 16th in points, there's no better time to summon that former magic and earn a win he desperately needs.
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Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski
This race is the type where rivalries come out in full force, with no championship points at stake for any potential dust-up. So will two of NASCAR's fiercest enemies, Hamlin and Keselowski, go at it again? They've been fairly quiet in 2010 after last November's feud, one that culminated in Hamlin intentionally knocking Keselowski out of the way in the Nationwide Series finale. The two have played it cool in public, but privately still keep their distance and won't back away the second they bang fenders on the track.
5 of 10Fred Vuich/SI; Sam Sharpe/Icon SMI
Johnson had so much success at Charlotte at one point -- winning four points races in a row -- that experts referred to the former Lowe's Motor Speedway as "his house." Coming off a win in the fall event, the No. 48 team has to be a favorite entering an event it's won twice: in 2003 and 2006, the same year Johnson won the first of what's been four consecutive Cup championships.
6 of 10Fred Vuich/SI; AP
Ford may be blowing away the competition off the track, but it's struggled to get up to speed on it. This year still finds the Fords searching for their first win (0-for-29 in NASCAR's top three series) and Kenseth is their lone driver "locked in" the All-Star field. Winless since taking the checkers at Fontana back in Feb. 2009, the former Cup champ will look to turn his luck around in a race where he took the checkered flag in 2004.
7 of 10Chris Williams/Icon SMI
One of the beauties of the All-Star race is the respect it gives aging legends, presenting them with an opportunity for one shining moment in the spotlight. Labonte, the 2000 Cup Series champion, is winless since 2003 but gets the honor of an All-Star start this weekend in his partially-sponsored No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet. An upset victory at the track where he won his first Cup race in 1995 would thrill the fans and prolong a career that's slowly sliding toward retirement.
8 of 10Craig Jones/Getty Images
On All-Star night, the punches get thrown before the big fight even begins. A heated race to fill out the All-Star field, the Showdown groups in all eligible drivers who haven't met the winning criteria needed to make the cut. This year's undercard is stacked with heavyweights like Jeff Burton , Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle , but at least one of them is guaranteed to get shut out: just the top two drivers from the Showdown transfer into the "A" main. The battles for the win are just as exciting, too: Brian Vickers and Mike Bliss wowed the crowd with this wreck at the checkers in `06 that sent Vickers to his first career win of any kind in Cup.
9 of 10Worth Canoy/Icon SMI
Filling out the 21-driver grid this year will be the winner of the sport's fan vote, a popularity contest that could win your candidate over $1 million. That's exactly how Kasey Kahne did it in 2008, thanking his fans by coming from shotgun on the field (24th) to score his first and only victory in the All-Star Race. With so much at stake, drivers with long odds to get in on merit have hatched all sorts of different schemes in an effort to get votes. Scott Speed 's is the most outrageous this year: with a fan vote victory, he's promised to pie Kyle Busch in the face on national television.
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In this event more than any other, leading laps don't matter until it's the last one. Fans have been treated to a long list of legendary finishes, with none greater than in 1992. After spinning Dale Earnhardt during the white flag lap, Kyle Petty endured an unexpected challenge from Davey Allison coming off turn 4. Heading to the flag, Petty spun the No. 28 in desperation, but it still wasn't enough as Allison crossed the checkered flag in front -- even though he was headed in the wrong direction. Allison suffered a concussion that day, but he still took home the big prize while setting a record as the only driver to win this exhibition in back-to-back years.
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