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All-Star race set for 21-car field

The start of the 2008 All-Star raceTwenty-one of NASCAR's top drivers will compete in the non-points Sprint All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend.

Five former Sprint Cup champions and another 13 race-winning drivers are already set to compete for the US $1,022,975 dollar cheque that goes to the winner of Saturday night's event.

Former champions over the past ten years who are still active drivers, race-winners from 2008 and 2009 and past winners of the All-Star race are all eligible to compete.

The top two finishers of the Sprint Showdown race on Saturday evening and another driver voted by the fans, whose identity will be announced prior to the start of the All-Star race, will complete the field. Seventeen drivers will be fighting for those three additional spots.

All drivers currently in the top 12 in the Sprint Cup standings will be in the race, led by points leader Jeff Gordon, who has won the race three times in the past, tying for most victories with the late Dale Earnhardt.

"The competition is going to be incredibly fierce, and you must push yourself and the car," said Gordon. "The pit crew will be asked to 'step up' and the crew chief will be forced to make some big decisions regarding pit strategy.

"The whole team will lay it all out there on the line and, the fact we've won it three times, it means a lot. It's a big event to win."

The only rookie competing will be Brad Keselowski, who qualified by virtue of his maiden win last month at Talladega. In the past Dale Earnhardt Jr and Ryan Newman both won the race in their debut seasons.

The event sees a few changes to its format for this year, with the 150-mile race divided into four segments. The first one will consist of 50 laps, the second and third will be of 20 and the final shootout will run for just ten laps, with only green flag laps counting.

Drivers will have a mandatory pitstop halfway through the first 50 laps, and they can pit for adjustments, fuel and tyres at the end of the first and second segments. Before the fourth segment there will be a 10-minute pitstop where adjustments can also be done.

The starting order for the All-Star race will be determined through a special qualifying format on Friday, where every driver has to complete three laps and a mandatory four-tyre pitstop. The grid for the Sprint showdown will be set by a regular qualifying session.

Last year Kasey Kahne won the All-Star race after being voted into it by the fans. A week later he went on to take victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at the same venue.

2009 All-Star entry list

Driver             Team                       Car
Greg Biffle        Roush Fenway Racing        Ford
Clint Bowyer       Richard Childress Racing   Chevrolet
Jeff Burton        Richard Childress Racing   Chevrolet
Kurt Busch         Penske Racing              Dodge
Kyle Busch         Joe Gibbs Racing           Toyota
Dale Earnhardt Jr  Hendrick Motorsports       Chevrolet
Carl Edwards       Roush Fenway Racing        Ford
Jeff Gordon        Hendrick Motorsports       Chevrolet
Denny Hamlin       Joe Gibbs Racing           Toyota
Kevin Harvick      Richard Childress Racing   Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson     Hendrick Motorsports       Chevrolet
Kasey Kahne        Richard Petty Motorsports  Dodge
Matt Kenseth       Roush Fenway Racing        Ford
Brad Keselowski    Phoenix Racing             Dodge
Bobby Labonte      Hall of Fame Racing        Ford
Mark Martin        Hendrick Motorsports       Chevrolet
Ryan Newman        Stewart-Haas Racing        Chevrolet
Tony Stewart       Stewart-Haas Racing        Chevrolet
TBA First placed driver in Sprint Showdown
TBA Second placed driver in Sprint Showdown
TBA Winner of the Fan Vote

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