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Get Your Motor Running ... 

Friday, May 18

For the next two weeks Charlotte will be a hotbed for all things NASCAR. From film screenings to Speed Street, a variety of events along with some intense racing will take front and center ... ya know we weren't called NASCAR Valley for nothing. The action cranked up Wednesday night when the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge took place at Bobcats Arena. New to this year's competition, the finishing order from this over-the-wall battle served as the pit selection order for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, and in the racing world this could prove crucial if it's a close call at the finish line. On tonight's menu is the Quaker Steak & Lube 200, part of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The spectacle that has become the All-Star Challenge happens on Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway and features a brand new format this year -- four segments of 20 laps each. All the rock stars of racing are eligible to run -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and so on. At press time there was no word on whether or not they'd have a kick ass band playing between segments as in years past (last year it was the Red Hot Chili Peppers) but Michael Jordan will be serving as Grand Marshall. And for you Earnhardt Sr. fans, in between all the racing action you can catch a screening of Dale, a documentary on the late racing legend. And, well, if you're not into racing, our advice to you is just show up for the tailgate parties especially if you like consuming a lot of beer and yelling Wooooo!! for no apparent reason...it can make for great stress reduction therapy. Tickets: Pit Crew Challenge -- start at $15; All-Star Challenge -- start at $29. 704-522-6500. www.pitcrewchallenge.com / www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.

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