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By Steve Reed | Associated Press
CONCORD, N.C. -- Charlotte Motor Speedway officials are changing the schedule for the 30th annual Sprint Cup All-Star Race weekend in May.
Speedway President Marcus Smith said Tuesday that the Sprint Showdown qualifying race will move to Friday night, May 16 -- the night before the popular All-Star Race. The race was previously held on Saturday as a prelude to the All-Star Race.
Qualifying will move from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.
By moving the Sprint Showdown to Friday night, Smith said fans will get "more bang for their buck" with a chance to see Sprint Cup cars and a Truck Series race on the same night.
The top two finishers in the Showdown qualify for the All-Star Race. Fans will also vote one driver into the race on Friday night.
Those three drivers will now have a chance to qualify for track position on Saturday as part of the three-lap, mandatory four-tire pit stop qualifying event. In the past, the two Showdown qualifiers and the fan favorite started at the back of the field for the All-Star Race since qualifying had already been completed.
"Come Saturday, what we wanted to see is everybody that is competing for that All-Star trophy," Smith said. "There won't be any confusion over why is my driver on the track, or not. Now everybody racing on Saturday will be competing for the Sprint All-Star race trophy and the million bucks."
Jimmie Johnson has won the last two All-Star events, giving him four victories overall -- more than any driver in history.
Eighteen drivers have already locked up a spot in the Sprint Cup All-Star Race by virtue of their past accomplishments, including Kurt Busch.
"The All-Star Race is very unpredictable," Busch said. "It always creates those highlight moments.
"Charlotte is a very racy racetrack and it challenges us in many ways that other tracks don't. That is why this track has always been deserving of the All-Star atmosphere."