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NASCAR Announces Changes for All-Star Race

Source: Charlotte Business Journal  

January 23, 2008

Sprint Cup officials have changed several aspects of NASCAR's annual all-star race and indicated the race will remain in Charlotte beyond this season.

The race, previously know as the Challenge, will now be called NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race XXIV. Officials decided to call it what it is -- a race.

The race involving drivers not already qualified for the event, previously known as the Nextel Open, will now be called the Sprint Showdown.

While the all-star race will still feature four segments, the former 20-lap segments have been lengthened to 25 laps each, giving drivers more time to actually race.

According to Scenedaily.com, a sister publication of the Charlotte Business Journal, the walls for the event will still be painted yellow. And the race, held annually at Lowe's Motor Speedway, appears to be staying at the track for some time.

Dean Kessel, Sprint Cup director of marketing, says he and Lowe's Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler have been in discussion about the 2009 race, which will be the 25th anniversary of the event.

Does that comment mean the all-star race, rumored to be relocating each season, will be staying in Charlotte?

"Every year it comes up, and every year we answer it sort of the same way," Kessel said Tuesday. "We're not having any conversations about moving it. I like to get out in front of things, and our team likes to get out in front of it. We have to plan that way if we're going to be here. Never say never, but there's no conversation going on about moving it."

Wheeler hopes the race remains at his track, especially now that the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be in Charlotte.

"Hopefully with the hall of fame thing here, the all-star race will stay here permanently," he says. "That's the first time I've said that. I've always been an advocate of that. At the same time, we understand that other people want it. But the Pro Bowl has been in Hawaii forever now, so why not leave things be?"