The Sprint All-Star Race is right around the corner. It's doesn't count towards anything yet everything is on the line. $2 Million and bragging rights is what the winner of the May 18th night race will receive and it is one of the biggest victories of the season.
The Sprint All-Star Race is a race between race winners from the previous season (2012) and the beginning of the current season, as well as the past ten event winners and the past decade’s Cup Series champions. But if you don't qualify in one of those four categories, hope is not lost. You can race your way in with the Sprint Showdown or, if that doesn't work out how you plan, just fall back on your fans.
Fans have the chance to vote their favorite driver into the race. The voting opens when the season starts and closes at 5 p.m. ET the day of the race. Miss Sprint Cup announced the top runners on May 1st on their Verified Twitter Page and they are, in alphabetical order, Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, Jamie McMurray, Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.
Looking at the names on the list, who will be the fan-voted entry into the Sprint All-Star Race? Let me break it down for you.
Let's start with Jeff Burton. Burton hasnâ€™t been a part of the Sprint All-Star Race since 2009. In 665 starts in the Cup Series, Burton has 21 wins, his last one coming in 2008. But wins and finishes don't necessarily weigh in on the Sprint Fan Vote. Jeff Burton has a good Twitter presence with almost 78,000 followers. Looking through his tweets, he hasn't rallied his fans to vote for him into the All-Star Race. Will that harm him or help him?
Bobby Labonte is no doubt a fan favorite. With 700 starts and 21 wins and 1 Championship in his 20 plus seasons in the Cup Series, Labonte is one that the fans of this sport know and love. Labonte hasn't won a race in 10 years but was in the Sprint All-Star Race last season. He has a stronger Twitter presence than Burton with over 83,000 followers. Labonte was the 2012 Sprint Fan Vote winner but will he be able to win it a second time?
Jamie McMurray has really shown his skill with three top-10 finishes this season. McMurray just missed out on the Sprint All-Star Race last season after he finished third in the Sprint Showdown. With over 143,000 followers on Twitter, McMurray has a lot of fans standing behind him. If his fans fall through and he doesn't get in via fan vote, he shouldnâ€™t be counted out as a potential winner for the Sprint Showdown.
As the lone female in the Sprint Cup Series, Danica Patrick is no doubt a hit among the fans, although her results on track are pretty average. After a whirlwind Daytona 500 where she finished 8th, Patrick's only finish above the top-15 was her surprising 12th place result at Martinsville. Voted the Most Popular Driver for six straight years (2005-2010) in the IZOD IndyCar Series and also the 2012 Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Patrick has one of the strongest fan bases in racing. With over 903,000 Twitter followers, Patrick's fan base stretches far beyond racing. Her primary sponsor, GoDaddy, sponsored a spot with Patrick and fellow Sprint Cup Driver and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr about voting for her for the Sprint Fan Vote. Patrick's fans have also been rallying for other fans and celebrities to vote the Lady in Green into the All-Star Race. Will all of their hard work pay off?
Ricky Stenhouse Jr has been in the media more this season than he ever has been, but it hasn't been because of his racing. He is dating media mogul Patrick and that could play well into his favor for the Sprint Fan Vote. Â Stenhouse has close to 94,000 followers on Twitter and his latest spot with Patrick that hit the airwaves just a few days ago tells fans that even he is voting for himself. The 2-Time Nationwide Series Champion is in his first full season in the Sprint Cup Series and his best finish was 11th at Kansas. He has led 29 laps this season and has his best start of 3rd at Kansas. Stenhouse races well on mile-and-a-half tracks and has a good chance of racing his way in to his first Sprint All-Star Race if someone else takes the fan vote.
The No.56 driven by Martin Truex Jr. is off to its best start this season. Truex has four top-10 finishes in 10 races and two of those are top-5s. Truex is a strong contender and would be a great addition into the All-Star Race. He has over 151,000 followers on Twitter and with a fan base that large; he could get in with the fan vote. He hasnâ€™t made an All-Star appearance since 2010 but finished fourth in last season's Sprint Showdown. Truex could be a favorite to win the Sprint Showdown so even if he doesn't get the fan vote, I wouldnâ€™t count him out.
After breaking down the top six in the Sprint Fan Vote, it's clear to see that each and every one of these drivers has a fan base that stands behind them. Unfortunately, only one of them will be chosen as the winner of the fan vote. My prediction is that we will see a Rookie in the All-Star Race this season. One, if not both, of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie Title contenders will make it into the May 18th night race. Danica Patrick will be your fan vote winner and her boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, will be your Sprint Showdown Champion. Tune in May 18th at 7:30 P.M. ET to see if I made the right predictions.
Want to watch Danica and Ricky’s Fan Vote Spoof? CLICK HERE
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