The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race, formerly known as The Winston from 1985 to 2003, the Nextel All-Star Challenge from 2004 to 2007, then the Sprint All-Star Race from 2008 to 2016, is an annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stock car exhibition race between race winners from the previous season and the beginning of the current season, as well as all past event winners, and previous NASCAR Cup Series champions who attempted to run the entire previous season. Two other ways to become eligible to race in the event are winning one of the three stages in the Monster Energy Open (a 50-lap race for drivers not eligible for the main event), or by winning the fan vote.
The first running of the race was held in 1985 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (formerly Lowe's Motor Speedway) and has been run there every year except in 1986 when it was run at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Michael Waltrip became the first driver to win the All-Star race after transferring in from a qualifying race in 1996. Until 2001, the rule restricted only champions of the past five All Star Challenge events, but in 2005, the rule became the winners in the past ten years of either the NASCAR Cup Series or the All-Star Race. For 2015, the full-time drivers who have won a NASCAR Cup Series or All-Star Race are now exempt, regardless of when they won the race. The Showdown was restricted to the top 50 drivers in either the final standings of the previous year or current standings in the current year. From 2000 to 2002, and again starting in 2015, two qualifying races (the "Showdown" currently) are implemented. 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 Showdown, and finishing on the lead lap, to the final starting field. Starting in 2008, the event's name featured the use of the edition of the race in Roman numerals, 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. In 2014, the Showdown race was moved to the night preceding the All-Star Race. To replace the event, Charlotte Motor Speedway president, Marcus Smith announced that qualifying for the All-Star Race will take place shortly before the main event.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, formerly Lowe's Motor Speedway, is a motorsports complex located in Concord, North Carolina 13 mi (21 km) from Charlotte. The complex features a 1.5 mi (2.4 km) quad oval track that hosts NASCAR racing including the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend, the NASCAR All-Star Race, and the Bank of America Roval 400. The speedway was built in 1959 by Bruton Smith and is considered the home track for NASCAR with many race teams located in the Charlotte area. The track is owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI) with Marcus G. Smith (son of Bruton Smith) as track president. The 2,000 acres (810 ha) complex also features a state-of-the-art quarter mile (0.40 km) drag racing strip, ZMAX Dragway. It is the only all-concrete, four-lane drag strip in the United States and hosts NHRA events. Alongside the drag strip is a state-of-the-art clay oval that hosts dirt racing including the World of Outlaws finals among other popular racing events.