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CUP: Stars Of The All-Star

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One of the grand attractions of the Sprint All-Star Race is that it’s like that famous box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.

But spectacle can break out at any moment.

What began in 1985 as another outlet for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to promote its Winston cigarettes – the race was first known as The Winston – quickly became one of the highlights of the NASCAR schedule.

It awarded no points but plenty of dollars.

Saturday night’s race will mark the 29th running of a race that boasts a rather lengthy highlight reel.

Five of the best:

1992 – The first night superspeedway race of the modern era ended in fireworks as Davey Allison, Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. wrestled for the lead on the final lap. Earnhardt lost control of his car after challenging Petty, and Petty and Allison raced to the finish line, colliding as they took the checkered flag. Allison won the race but was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment after crashing into the wall.

1987 – A titanic battle between ultimate winner Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Bill Elliott highlighted this one. As Earnhardt and Elliott raced for the lead, Earnhardt was forced onto the infield grass but maintained control of his car to stay in front. This became known as the “pass in the grass,” although there was no actual pass.

1989 – Two guys who now do all their racing from television booths were the major players. On the final lap, Rusty Wallace pushed leader Darrell Waltrip into a spin and went on to win the race, much to Waltrip’s anger. Their teams scuffled on pit road after the race, and Waltrip made the suggestion that Wallace choke on the prize money.

1997 – The year of the T-Rex. Hendrick Motorsports and Jeff Gordon brought a “special” car to the race and dominated the show. NASCAR didn’t call the car’s unique underbody design illegal but suggested that Hendrick remove it from its competition stable for future races.

1996 – For a decade, Michael Waltrip carried the baggage of being a good driver without a win. He finally broke through by winning in 1996 with the Wood Brothers.

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.