It’s the highest stakes poker game of the year.  Everyone has their eye on the prize. But who’s willing to go all the way to take home the $1 million purse?

In the new ad campaign for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, titled “Throwdown at Charlotte,” the biggest stars of NASCAR play a game of high-stakes poker – and all bets are off on the final winner.

The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, held under the lights on Saturday night, May 19, 2012, is the ultimate stand-off among the top drivers in NASCAR in a no-holds-barred throwdown for the $1 million prize.  The race, now in its 28th year, annually produces some of the best duels and biggest drama in racing.

The “Throwdown at Charlotte” ad campaign, created and directed by Charlotte Motor Speedway and Victory Management Group and produced by NASCAR Media Group, plays off of that theme.  The commercial was shot primarily in the saloon at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Whisky River, a replica of an old western town on his property, complete with church, jail, general store and hotel.

The spot opens with a panning shot of the Charlotte Motor Speedway track with “Driver Wanted” posters on the track wall.  It then cuts to NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson tending bar in an old western saloon.  A high-stakes poker game is underway, with NASCAR stars Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart all betting on who’s going to take home the $1 million pot.  While last year’s winner, Edwards, boasts that he took home the money before, Martin accuses someone at the table of cheating – and a gunfight throwdown ensues.

The scene then shifts to outside the saloon, where another NASCAR Hall of Famer -- Darrell Waltrip – invites fans to “see the whole thing unfold on the largest HDTV screen in the land,” all from horseback.

“Doing ad shoots like these are a lot of fun,” said Edwards.  “We don’t usually get to dress up like this.  I was in the commercial last year, and went on to win the All-Star Race.  So it does get me excited for the All-Star Race again this year. Maybe I’ll take home all the money again.  It’s definitely one of the most exciting events of the year for a driver.”

The campaign also includes radio, online, outdoor and print executions.  In addition, the theme will be delivered at the racetrack with special wild west events and entertainment, including country music superstar Blake Shelton.  The TV commercial will break during the Daytona 500 weekend, and will run nationally on SPEED and in key local markets on Fox and regional cable networks.  Visit or follow @cltmotorspdwy on Twitter for outtakes and behind-the-scenes action of the shoot.

"We wanted to continue the very popular campaign that gives the fans a closer look into the personalities of the drivers and give them a chance to connect with our stars on a more emotional level,” said Tim Schuldt, vice president of consumer marketing for Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We also wanted to showcase the intensity of this unique event and portray the intense rivalries that take place at 200 mph during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. With $1 million going to the winner, the racing excitement is never higher and the entertainment value for the fans is never better. We think the campaign helps tell that story!"

The campaign also features a special guest star -- former drill sergeant and United States Army All-Star, Derek Heavener of Huntington, W.Va., who won a spot in the commercial by writing an essay detailing why he should have been considered for the “Are You an All-Star?” contest and was selected from more than 500 entries.

“I’ve served my country honorably in the United States Army for 19 years. I’ve been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo and have stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest All-Stars of our time: the American soldier,” wrote Heavener.

Heavener won two tickets to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 19, pre-race pit passes, VIP parking for the race and a role in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 2012 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race commercial.

The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race weekend will feature a special pre-race concert presented by Target with country music all-star Blake Shelton. The race will be broadcast nationally by SPEED.  Tickets are available now for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or at