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Gentlemen, start your campaigns

Cup drivers such as Elliott Sadler, on left with driver Brian Vickers, right, and ESPN reporter Marty Smith, center, use Twitter gatherings to connect with fans about All-Star voting and fundraising causes.

Associated Press

Cup drivers such as Elliott Sadler, on left with driver Brian Vickers, right, and ESPN reporter Marty Smith, center, use Twitter gatherings to connect with fans about All-Star voting and fundraising causes.

From Tweet-Ups to YouTube ads, chasing the fan vote for a NASCAR All-Star spot has gone viral. Social media sites are filled with race teams not yet in the elite field, trying to win the vote for tonight's race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. "If you're lucky enough and your fans vote you in," driver Clint Bowyer says, "that is awesome." It can also be lucrative."

Kasey Kahne didn't qualify for the All-Stars in 2008 and was on his way home when he learned he had won the fan vote. The result? Kahne won the All-Star Race, $1 million and a 10-year exemption into the event.

"I love it," Kahne said of the vote. "Hey, the weekend is all about the fans."

Drivers who have won a Sprint Cup race in the past year, former NASCAR champions and past All-Star winners make the field, plus the top two finishers in the preliminary Showdown race.

One last spot is saved for the fan-vote winner.

Gatherings become spot to stump for votes

Richard Petty Motorsports teammates AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler took part in Twitter gatherings this month at Darlington, S.C., in which fans waved signs urging others to vote their driver in. Last week, a Twitter entry from Sadler began: "Nice day in VA! It's a perfect day to pick up your Sprint phone and vote me into the allstar race."

Allmendinger — AJDinger on Twitter — spoke with a couple of hundred fans who attended the Darlington event, and was snapped working a DJ turntable — which, of course, was chronicled on Twitter. Sometimes, he wonders if it's all too much. "Does anybody want to hear that I took my dog for a walk? I guess they do," he said.

Tried and Truex

Martin Truex has a series of YouTube spots. His video pitch made its debut this month; he's seen in the Michael Waltrip Racing race shop sneaking a T-shirt with his "Tried and Truex" slogan over a life-sized mannequin. Another has Truex outside Mac's Speedshop in Cornelius, N.C., slipping campaign fliers under windshield wipers of parked cars. "It's fun," Truex said. "It kind of gives fans an inside look at what we do. It's really been well received."

One refusal

Not all drivers in contention are on board with the influx of social media, or its role in garnering All-Star votes. Jeff Burton hasn't won since Charlotte in 2008 and must race his way in tonight unless he wins the fan vote. "It is embarrassing that we are not in it," Burton said. "I'm not going to go politicking to get in." Burton, 42, says he doesn't go on Twitter or Facebook. "There might be some tweeting going on, but it isn't coming from me, how's that?" he said.

In an instant, or not

Greg Biffle recently recalled tweeting a picture of a rattlesnake found on his mountain property in West Virginia. "Then 10,000 people see it within five minutes. …" he said. "It's amazing how stuff travels today." Not that he has it all figured out. "I'm a real novice. People come up to me and say, 'You won't accept me as your (Facebook) friend,' " he said. "I'm like, 'You know I like you.' "

Sprint Cup points

Through 12 of 36 races. The top 12 drivers through 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.

DriverPts.Back

Kevin Harvick1,768—

Kyle Busch1,69969

Matt Kenseth1,642126

Jimmie Johnson1,637131

Denny Hamlin1,618150

Jeff Gordon1,605163

Greg Biffle1,581187

Jeff Burton1,569199

Kurt Busch1,531237

Carl Edwards1,487281

Mark Martin1,475293

Martin Truex1,434334

Up next

All-Star Showdown and All-Star Race (a nonpoints race); 7:30 tonight; Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C. TV: Speed Channel

Gentlemen, start your campaigns 05/21/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 22, 2010 12:49pm]

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