Auto racing insider

The wording that’s not in a NASCAR news release about the Sprint All-Star race has generated a lot of buzz among race fans and media members.

The starting line-up for Saturday’s non-points event at Charlotte Motor Speedway includes a driver voted in by fans.

In recent years, news releases promoting the fan vote indicated that the winner of the fan vote had to finish on the lead lap of the preliminary Sprint Showdown to advance to the main event. A Wednesday release from NASCAR made no reference to the lead-lap finish, leading some to wonder if the apparent change is an effort to ensure that the popular Danica Patrick makes the big show.

Patrick has only two lead-lap finishes in 11 points-paying races this season, but the lead-lap provision for the fan vote likely won’t be a factor since the Showdown is only 20 laps.

Showdown success: The Sprint Showdown, the last-chance race which offers the top two finishers starting spots in the All-Star race, can lead to even better things down the road for the winner.

Martin Truex Jr., who won the Showdown in 2007 and 2010, had the strongest stretch of his Cup career after his 2007 Showdown win.

He won at Dover two weeks after the Showdown and followed that with a third-place run at Pocono and a runner-up finish at Michigan. He scored two more third-place finishes, at New Hampshire and Texas, and another second, in the second Michigan race. And he made the Chase for the Sprint Cup that year.

“It seemed to kick-start our team,” Truex said on this week’s NASCAR teleconference. “I definitely think there’s some incentive there. It builds confidence. It gets the guys pumped up.”

Truex is back in the Showdown again this year, as he hasn’t won a points-paying race since that Dover victory in 2007.

Young Kenseth: Matt Kenseth wasn’t the only member of his family celebrating a race victory at an historic track Saturday night. While Matt was winning the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, his son Ross was racing his way to victory at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, one of the more famous short tracks in America.

Ross Kenseth, a part-time racer and full-time student at Clemson, was running in a 150-lap PASS South series race. With 15 laps to go, he took the lead just as rain began to fall. Seven laps later the race was called because of the rain, making Kenseth the winner, with Kyle Grissom, son of former NASCAR driver Steve Grissom, in second place.

Local Outlaws success: Shane Clanton of Zebulon scored his second World of Outlaws Late Model victory in the past three races last weekend in the circuit’s first appearance in Arkansas. Clanton started the 50-lap main event at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock from the pole and led the first 42 laps only to be passed by Tim McCreadie. But two laps later, McCreadie spun attempting to pass a lapped car, handing the lead back to Clanton, who then had to fend off defending series champion Darrell Lanigan over the final five laps. And he did it despite a deflating left-rear tire on his car.

“I got lucky,” Clanton said in Victory Lane.

Clanton’s 19th career WOO win moved him to within six points of leader Josh Richards, who finished third at Little Rock.

Clint Smith of Senoia finished a season-best seventh.

Clanton, Smith and the WOO tour race next at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio, on May 24, and at Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va., on May 25-26.

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