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Busch and Allmendinger take All-Star, Showdown poles

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger will take pole positions for this weekend's non-championship All-Star and Showdown events at Charlotte on Saturday evening.
Sprint Cup competition takes a week off this weekend, and instead the NASCAR drivers compete in the unique exhibition Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway for a $1 million prize.

Kyle Busch will start from pole position for the All-Star race, after a qualifying format consisting of three timed laps and a mandatory four-tyre pit stop - making the pit crew a vital part of the effort - saw him record a time of 119.112s and an average speed of 45.335s. Busch had earlier also topped the practice session for the All-Star field.

"We unloaded with a really fast racecar today," said Busch. "The guys did a great job there with the pit stop."

Busch was 0.709s faster in total on his qualifying run than Ryan Newman who starts alongside him on the front row of the grid, with Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle lining up a row behind. Last year's winner Carl Edwards will start from 13th, while the best pit stop time went to Brad Keseelowski (12.1s) but he will start from 19th place after incurring two lug nut penalties in the process.

Kasey Kahne managed to wreck his race car in qualifying, with a hard hit into the wall in turn 4 that effectively wrote off the car for the weekend and sent him to the backup car and to the back of the field for Saturday night's race. Regan Smith earlier blew up an engine in practice, which means he will start the All-Star race from the rear of the grid.

"I was just trying to get all I could and went a little too far," he said.

The other slots in the All-Star race go to the drivers who have won Cup races in the 2011 or the 2012 seasons to date, together with any former Sprint Cup champions or winners of the All-Star race from the last decade. This year, that gives a field consisting of Marcos Ambrose, Trevor Bayne, Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Mark Martin, Paul Menard, Newman, David Ragan, Smith and of course reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart.

Trevor Bayne will be particularly happy to make the starting line-up of his first All-Star race, thanks to his victory in the 2011 Daytona 500. He was unable to take up the spot last year because of illness. He and the Wood Brothers team have already said that if they were to win the $1 million prize on Saturday that they will plough the money back into the team to allow Bayne to run an expanded 2012 Cup season.

"I'm just excited to be in the All-Star Race," said Bayne. "This is [Eddie and Len Wood]'s hobby, so it's not like they take their winnings and go buy a new boat with it or something. They love racing and they want to be a part of it, so winning on Saturday night will definitely help us add more races."

These 20 drivers will be joined in the race by three more, starting with the winner of a fan vote. That has historically been a runaway affair for Dale Earnhardt Jr.. One driver who might give him competition in the future is Danica Patrick, but she is in Iowa this weekend for the Nationwide Series and therefore not a contender.

The final two spots go to the winner and runner-up of the Sprint Showdown showdown race that is held earlier on Saturday evening. The 22-car field consists of all the Cup drivers who have not already made the All-Star race.



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#22 Penske Racing crew chief Todd Gordon talks with driver AJ Allmendinger during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Brown Toyota, walks on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. With him are Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finished second, and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet SS who finished in third place. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, waves to fans after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, picks up the victory flag Sunday, May 3, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and his crew chief, Greg Ives, celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. Johnson finished second behind Earnhardt, Jr. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Sponge Bob Square Pants Ford, wreck during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Earnhardt, Jr. is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, qualifies for second position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Kahne is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Pole winner Jeff Gordon, driver of the #5 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, wins the Pole position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Gordon is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, wins the Pole position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Gordon is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, poses with Miss Coors Light Amanda Mertz and the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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