Even though there's a new wrinkle in the format, the favorite in Wednesday night's Prelude to the Dream charity race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, is the same as it ever was--the guy who owns the track and stages the event.

Tony Stewart, who launched the Gillette Fusion ProGlide Prelude to the Dream at the half-mile dirt track in 2005, has won the event the past two years and three of the five since its inception. Stewart set the one-lap qualifying record last year (15.405 seconds) and led all 30 laps of the main event.

The new variation this year includes a team competition, with each team representing one of four children's hospitals that are the beneficiaries of the Prelude, which will be televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View at 7 p.m. ET, with a replay to follow immediately.

Stewart chose four captains and handicapped each team. Clint Bowyer heads the Riley Hospital for Children (Indianapolis) team that includes Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, inaugural Prelude winner Kenny Wallace and drag racer Ron Capps.

Kahne Kahne leads the Cincinnati Children's Hospital contingent that features Stewart, Joey Logano, Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott and NHRA star Cruz Pedregon.

Kyle Busch's Levine Children's Hospital (Charlotte) team includes Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, David Reutimann, Dave Blaney, Marcos Ambrose and motocross champion Travis Pastrana.

Denny Hamlin leads a team competing for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital (Memphis) featuring Carl Edwards, Ken Schrader, Aric Almirola, Ricky Carmichael, IndyCar star Tony Kanaan and former Cup champion crew chief Ray Evernham.

"You look at it, and they lined up the teams really well," Busch said Friday at Pocono Raceway. "You look at it, and it's like, 'Man, that's a really, really good guy,' and, 'Oh, that's a really good guy,' and, 'I want that guy.' It will be a hard-fought race for sure. I don't know who picked the teams, but I will give them credit. They did a nice job of picking the teams."

Stewart acknowledged that the teams were seeded largely on the basis of past performance in the Prelude, but he wasn't reluctant to pick a favorite.

"I still think my team is probably the one to beat," Stewart said. "We basically sat down and looked at everybody that had been there and how they had run at the Prelude and tried to evenly stack the teams up to where they were as even as we could make them to make it as close as possible.

"You don't have a bunch of heavy hitters on one team and guys that struggled on another team. We've tried to make that aspect as even as we can."

The team aspect of the competition will be scored like a cross-country meet--one point for first place, two points for second, etc., with low total score winning. Only the top five drivers on each team will count toward the team total unless sixth-place finishers are needed as a tiebreaker.

The winning team will collect 45 percent of the net money raised for its charity. Second place will get 25 percent, and third and fourth will receive 15 percent each. Stewart hopes to raise $1 million this year.

Proceeds from HBO Pay-Per-View sales also support the charities.
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