The race has a unique format, which changes frequently. The format adopted in 2007 is made of four identical segments, or "quarters," with the fourth quarter having a rule where caution laps do not count. More about the format can be found below.
Former Sprint Cup and Sprint All-Star champions are also eligible for the race. Until 2001, the rule restricted only champions of the past five Sprint All Star Challenge events, but in 2005, the rule became the winners in the past ten years of either the Sprint Cup or the Sprint All-Star Race. The Sprint Showdown was restricted to the top 50 drivers in either the final standings of the previous year or current standings in the current year.
In 2004, NEXTEL, predecessor to Sprint, added a vote of race spectators, internet users and Sprint cellphone users to add one additional driver not in the field, but in the Sprint Showdown, and finishing on the lead lap, to the final starting field.
For the 2008 race, the event's name change also will feature the use of the edition of the race in Roman numerals for the first time, with the 2008 race's official name the "Sprint All-Star Race XXIV". Also, the fan entry driver was changed, with the new formula coming from those attending races up to that point, Sprint retail locations and double votes from Sprint subscribers.
From its first year, the unique monikor "The Winston" was adopted by sponsor R. J. Reynolds. Rather than referring to the event as a traditional "All star" race, no generic reference was included in the title. Due to to limitations on tobacco advertising on television, other races which involved tobacco title sponsorship utilized generic names on network television. For example, on ABC, the Winston 500 was called the "Talladega 500" and the Marlboro 500 was called the "Michigan 500." Without a generic alternative, television and other media were forced to acknowledge Winston as the title sponsor, effectively skirting, and pushing the limits of [tobacco advertising limits.
The race moved to Atlanta International Raceway in 1986, with a 200 kilometer format of 83 laps (126.326 miles) on Mother's Day, a day typically avoided on the NASCAR calendar. Like its previous counterpart, green flag pit stops were mandatory, and only winners from the 1985 season were eligible. Since there were only nine different drivers to win a race in 1985, the highest placed non-winner in final 1985 points, Geoffrey Bodine, was added to the field. A 100-lap (152.2 miles) consolation race for the non-race winners of 1985, the Atlanta Invitational was held the same day. It featured only thirteen participants, and was won by Benny Parsons. A lackluster crowd of only 18,500 attended the second edition of The Winston, with only twenty-three cars racing in the two races combined.
In addition to the race format, the method for choosing participants changed. The 20-driver field consisted of the past nineteen race winners, regardless of season. The remaining drivers would participate in a 100-lap, last-chance race, the Winston Open, with the winner advancing to the final starting position.
In 1989, qualifying for the starting lineup for The Winston changed to a three-lap time trial, with a two-tire pit stop in the middle.
The ten minute break would be used between segments.
Two changes were made in qualification in 1991. First, automatic berths were given only to race-winning drivers and owners in 1990 and 1991 up until The Winston. Second, The Winston Open was reduced to 50 laps, with the winner automatically advancing to the Winston. To guarantee 20 cars in the The Winston field, the field would be filled out by the top finishers (e.g., 2nd, 3rd, etc.) in the Winston Open advancing to the main event until the field reached 20 cars.
ABC carried the race in 1990, with the Winston Open finish, and CBS carried both the Open and The Winston in 1991. In 1991, to add to the day of events, the NASCAR Legends Race was held on a quarter-mile oval paved between the Charlotte Motor Speedway quad-oval and pit area. Elmo Langley won the exhibition event featuring retired NASCAR champions and stars.
The 1995 race featured Dale Earnhardt's trend-setting alternate cars, which have infiltrated NASCAR in recent years as teams and sponsors will alternate colors on cars to promote different products.
The field would be inverted after the first segment, and like the previous years, a 10-minute break would be featured between segments.
Former NASCAR Champions were automatically invited to the race, as were the past five years' winners of this race.
After Michael Waltrip's win by being the last car to transfer from The Winston Open, NASCAR changed the procedure by reverting to a format featuring the 1996 and 1997 race winning drivers and owners, and then adding the preceding year's race winning drivers not yet in the field until the field reached 19, and then the winner of The Winston Open. If the number added to the previous year reached over 19, then all drivers who won races that year would be in the field.
The second ten-minute break is eliminated and replaced with caution laps, and cars would have the option of pitting for tires and fuel, at the expense of losing track position.
The inversion is changed to a random draw between 3 and 12 cars for the inversion after the first segment.
In 1998, qualifying for the Winston Open was changed. Previously it was accomplished with one-lap qualifying runs. From 1998-2000, the No Bull 25 Shootout twin races determined the lineups. Practice speeds (odd/even) from earlier in the day set the field for two 25-lap sprint races. The finish order for the first 25 set the odd positions for the Winston Open, and the finish order for the second 25 set the even positions for the Winston Open. In 2001, the Winston Open reverted back to single-car qualifying, best of two laps.
In 2000-2002, immediately following the The Winston Open, a 16-lap "No Bull 5 Sprint" last-chance race was added. The winner of the sprint race would also advance to The Winston.
In 2001, television coverage moved to FX as part of the new NASCAR television contract, and qualifying was changed so the pit stop took place at the start of the qualifying, and the stop was a four-tire change instead of two.
Starting in 2001, crew members were introduced together with drivers during the driver introduction ceremonies, with Fox broadcasters Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond interviewing selected persons during the ceremony.
Only race winning drivers and owners from 2001 would be in the field, and all former Cup titleholders and the past five winners of The Winston would be added to the field, plus the winner of the qualifying races.
The No Bull Sprint was eliminated after 2002, and for 2003, The Winston Open would become a 20-lap race with pit stops, and then a 10 green flag lap sprint after pit stops.
If the caution flag waved on Lap 40 of the first segment, two green flag laps or the next yellow flag would be run to finish the segment.
In The Winston, only the top 20 cars advanced to the second segment, and 10 cars (in 2002) or 14 cars (in 2003 planned, but was 12 after crashes) advanced to the third segment.
A green flag pit stop for four tires was mandatory in the first segment, but after Frank Stoddard beat the system in 2002 by changing four tires on the car driven by Jeff Burton just feet from the finish line on the last lap, the rule was changed to mandating tire stops at a specific point in the race.
Also, the inversion is moved to the final 20 lap sprint, and the ten-minute break is restored between the second and final segment.
The elimination was eliminated, 1998-2001 inversion and second segment to third segment break rules were restored, meaning a random inversion and an open pit road for the final break instead of a ten-minute break.
The four tire stop is now between Laps 13 and 16.
Announced during the Media Tour in Charlotte on January 23, 2007, the annual Pit Crew Challenge, held May 16, 2007 at Charlotte Bobcats Arena, won by Ryan Newman's crew in 2007, not only gave each member of the crew $10,000 each, but gave the driver the first choice of pit box, instead of the usual post-qualifying selection. The unique three-lap qualifying (with a pit stop to change four tires) remained in place to determine the starting lineup, with $50,000 for the winner, $10,000 for second, and $5,000 for third, with the pit crew receiving half of the winner's share.
Three drivers from the Nextel Open event, a 40-lap race with two 20-lap segments, gained entry to the Challenge. The top two finishers of the Open plus the leading fan vote winner still on the lead lap joined the automatic entries from past decade's All-Star race winners and active Cup Champions, along with the winners of the previous year's and first eleven Nextel Cup races of the current season. Winners of those first eleven races in that season were also eligible for the following season's All-Star event. In addition, as part of NASCAR's new television agreements, coverage was moved from FX to Fox sibling network Speed. The race format also changed as well.
The main race was shortened to eighty laps with four twenty-lap segments (or "quarters" like in football or basketball; only green flag laps will count in the final quarter). After the first segment, a five-lap caution period starts and there is an opportunity for drivers to take an optional pit stop. After the second segment, there is a ten minute "halftime" break so pit crews can make adjustments. Unlike past events though, there is no inversion of the field. Finally, after the third segment, there is a five lap caution period so team can make a required pit stop (for work on their cars or a "stop and go" akin to a speeding penalty on pit row) for all teams which will determine the running order before the Dash for Cash, namely the $1 million (US) grand prize.
The changes to Sprint All-Star Race XXIV from XXIII is not only the name change with Roman numerials akin to the Super Bowl, and the first All-Star Race utilizing the Car of Tomorrow template, but also an expansion of the race by 25%. Each quarter will now have five more laps to race, which changes the complexion of each segment, as tire wear will become a greater factor as fuel and tire wear will be an issue throughout the race. The 2007 race with its 20-lap segments was treated more of a sprint race; the 2008 race with 25-lap segments will mean a car will use nearly a half tank of fuel and cycle the tires through one half of a tire run.
It also changes the final pit stop as all cars will have to pit for fuel and tires since a stop and go during the mandatory pit stop will virtually be impossible because it will be very close to the limit (about 55-60 laps) for fuel, and tire wear will be an issue as cars will have to be set up for a fairly long run.
The qualifying race also featured a name change, to the Sprint Showdown. All prize monies remained unchanged for this year's race.
|Edition||Year||Date||Driver||Car Make||Winner's Prize|
|I||1985||May 25||Darrell Waltrip||Chevrolet||$20,000||105||161.184||Junior Johnson Racing|
|The Winston (Atlanta International Raceway)|
|II||1986||May 11||Bill Elliott||Ford||$240,000||126.3||159.123||Melling Racing|
|III||1987||May 17||Dale Earnhardt||Chevrolet||$200,000||202.5||153.023||Richard Childress Racing|
|IV||1988||May 22||Terry Labonte||Chevrolet||$200,000||202.5||139.228||Junior Johnson Racing (2)|
|V||1989||May 21||Rusty Wallace||Pontiac||$240,000||202.5||133.150||Blue Max Racing|
|VI||1990||May 20||Dale Earnhardt (2)||Chevrolet||$325,000||105||163.001||Richard Childress Racing (2)|
|VII||1991||May 19||Davey Allison||Ford||$325,000||105||168.75||Robert Yates Racing|
|VIII||1992||May 16||Davey Allison (2)||Ford||$300,000||105||132.678||Robert Yates Racing (2)|
|IX||1993||May 22||Dale Earnhardt (3)||Chevrolet||$222,500||105||139.690||Richard Childress Racing (3)|
|The Winston Select|
|X||1994||May 21||Geoffrey Bodine||Ford||$250,000||105||115.561||Geoff Bodine Racing|
|XI||1995||May 22||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||$300,000||105||148.410||Hendrick Motorsports|
|XII||1996||May 20||Michael Waltrip||Ford||$211,200||105||162.721||Wood Brothers Racing|
|XIII||1997||May 17||Jeff Gordon (2)||Chevrolet||$207,500||105||157.895||Hendrick Motorsports (2)|
|XIV||1998||May 16||Mark Martin||Ford||$257,500||105||142.084||Roush Racing|
|XV||1999||May 22||Terry Labonte (2)||Chevrolet||$297,500||105||Hendrick Motorsports (3)|
|XVI||2000||May 20||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Chevrolet||$515,000||105||167.035||Dale Earnhardt, Inc.|
|XVII||2001||May 19||Jeff Gordon (3)||Chevrolet||$515,000||105||185.022||Hendrick Motorsports (4)|
|XVIII||2002||May 18||Ryan Newman||Ford||$794,326||135||110.005||Penske Racing|
|XIX||2003||May 17||Jimmie Johnson||Chevrolet||$1,017,604||135||133.297||Hendrick Motorsports (5)|
|NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge|
|XX||2004||May 22||Matt Kenseth||Ford||$1,044,000||135||91.889||Roush Racing (2)|
|XXI||2005||May 21||Mark Martin (2)||Ford||$1,101,325||135||113.951||Roush Racing (3)|
|XXII||2006||May 20||Jimmie Johnson(2)||Chevrolet||$1,055,007||135||103.290||Hendrick Motorsports (6)|
|XXIII||2007||May 19||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||$1,031,539||120||89.091||Richard Childress Racing (4)|
|NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race|
|XXIV||2008||May 17||Kasey Kahne||Dodge||$1,037,935||150||120.113||Gillett Evernham Motorsports|
|Year||Date||Driver||Car Make||Winner's Prize|
|Atlanta Invitational (Atlanta International Raceway)|
|1986||May 11||Benny Parsons||Oldsmobile||$75,000||152.2||157.358|
|1987||May 17||Buddy Baker||Oldsmobile||$30,000||150||124.826|
|1988||May 22||Sterling Marlin||Oldsmobile||$30,000||150||135.610|
|1989||May 21||Sterling Marlin (2)||Oldsmobile||$30,000||150||140.919|
|1990||May 20||Dick Trickle||Pontiac||$30,000||201||142.919|
|1991||May 19||Michael Waltrip||Pontiac||$30,000||201||135.887|
|1992||May 16||Michael Waltrip (2)||Pontiac||$28,000||75||138.12|
|1993||May 22||Sterling Marlin (3)||Ford||$28,000||75||139.535|
|Winston Select Open|
|1994||May 21||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||$28,000||75||130.372|
|1995||May 22||Todd Bodine||Ford||$28,000||75||119.734|
|1996||May 20||Jimmy Spencer||Ford||$28,000||75||154.905|
|1997||May 17||Ricky Craven||Chevrolet||$28,000||75||172.855|
|1998||May 16||Jeremy Mayfield||Ford||$59,096||75||140.552|
|1999||May 22||Tony Stewart||Pontiac||$33,460||75||135.064|
|2000||May 20||Steve Park||Chevrolet||$||45||172.916|
|2001||May 19||Johnny Benson||Pontiac||$||45|
|2002||May 18||Jeremy Mayfield||Ford||$54,326||45||148.216|
|2003||May 17||Jeff Burton||Ford||$52,388||45||83.381|
|2004||May 22||Sterling Marlin (4)||Dodge||$55,999||45|
|2005||May 21||Brian Vickers||Chevrolet||$53,325||45||95.688|
|2006||May 20||Scott Riggs||Dodge||$53,534||45||95.801|
|2007||May 19||Martin Truex, Jr.||Chevrolet||$52,386||60||79.063|
|2008||May 17||A.J. Allmendinger||Toyota|
|Year||Date||Driver||Car Make||Winner's Prize|
|2000||May 20||Jerry Nadeau||Chevrolet||$||24||179.856|
|2001||May 19||Todd Bodine||Ford||$||24|
|2002||May 18||Ryan Newman||Ford||$44,326||24||178.512|
|Year||Date||Driver||Car Make||Winner's Prize|
|1998||May 16|| Jeremy Mayfield|
|1999||May 22|| Mike Skinner|
|2000||May 20|| Jerry Nadeau|
Jimmy Spencer (2)
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