Edwards grabs poll for Sprint All-Star race

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NASCAR has installed new rules to discourage drivers from sandbagging.

Last year’s champion Jimmie Johnson won the first segment and hung back in the pack for the other three segments knowing he’d secured a top four starting spot in the final 10-lap shootout. That strategy worked well for Johnson, who jumped out to a big lead on the 10-lap shootout and cruised to an easy _ and uneventful _ victory.

This year’s segment winners aren’t guaranteed a top four spot, and drivers will enter a mandatory pit stop prior to the 10-lap final segment based on their average finish in the first four segments.

Kyle Busch called last year’s rules “stupid” and said he encouraged NASCAR to change them.

“I think the rules are right this year,” Busch said. “Last year, you’re exactly right, you win a segment and you roll in the back. We all knew that and that was the strategy you have to play. Jimmie (Johnson) played it the best obviously. For this year, that’s entirely out the window.”

Track owner Bruton Smith also added some incentive by offering an additional $1 million incentive if a driver can win all four segments and the 10-lap shootout, meaning it’s conceivable a driver could take home $2 million.

Busch estimated the odds of a driver accomplishing that feat are about “300 to one.”

The top two finishers in the Sprint Showdown and the winner of the fan vote will fill out the 22-car field.

Danica Patrick is among those hoping to drive her way into the field.

There have been some rumblings from fans that NASCAR clarified its rule so that the fan vote winner doesn’t have to finish on the lead lap of the Sprint Showdown to qualify for the All-Star race as a way to ensure Patrick gets in.

“From my understanding that was a mistake on NASCAR’s part earlier in the week,” Patrick said. “So, outside of that I have absolutely no idea what the rules are from the past or what they’re going to be or what they’ve been. It’s all new to me.”

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