The Winston, NASCAR¿s annual all-star event, has created some of the sport¿s most dramatic moments and, with this year¿s event paying the winner $1 million for the first time, fans are sure to be treated to fireworks both on and off the track Saturday, May 17, at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway.

The race is unique. The format is different; there are no points; and only the top performers end up with a shot at the big money. It¿s often called ¿a racer¿s race¿ where drivers are required to find the absolute edge and balance on it lap after lap.

Thoughts about The Winston from several drivers who will be chasing the $1 million first prize follow:

JIMMIE JOHNSON: ¿I like the short format. It¿s kind of like a Saturday night short-track race. It¿s a short format with a lot of hype.¿

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (2000 Winner): ¿Winning The Winston as a rookie was a pretty remarkable night. Dad was there and everything. The Winston is fun because there are no points, no pressure and you can crash out or do whatever it takes to win. You don¿t sacrifice a bunch of points or anything if you don¿t finish well, so you can really take all the risks.¿

MARK MARTIN (1998 Winner): ¿I¿ve always enjoyed The Winston because there are 36 weeks of constant points racing and constant pressure. Sometimes it¿s good to have a week in which the pressure is off for a couple of minutes. It¿s a great race.¿

KEVIN HARVICK: ¿With that $1 million, man they¿re going to tear up a lot of race cars. That¿ll be fun. The Winston is a race everybody gets really jacked up about. There are no points¿it¿s just about pride and money. When you put money in front of any of these guys¿including myself¿it¿s like a shark looking for fresh meat. You¿re there to win. And anything else doesn¿t matter.¿

JEFF GORDON (3-Time Winner): ¿The thing you¿ve got to realize is that you could pull all that money out, and say, ¿OK guys, it¿s The Winston. It¿s the all-star event. It¿s not paying anything, though. Go out and race.¿ You don¿t think the guys would do exactly the same thing? They¿d do the same thing whether there was no money on the line or $1 million. Guys are going to do what they can to win because it¿s just burning inside of them.¿

TONY STEWART: ¿The Winston is neat. It¿s just different. It¿s a no-holds barred race. You can lean on guys. You don¿t race like you normally do. But it¿s fun. It¿s nice to be able to run and know there¿s no pressure of points. You just go out there and get what you can get.¿

RYAN NEWMAN (2002 Winner): ¿It¿s really a fun race. It goes back to how I was brought up racing¿little short segments, then you go on to the next one. It¿s a lot of fun to have that much money up for grabs just for one night of racing. Winning last year was very special. These drivers will race harder for money than they will for points. Mostly because it¿s an ego thing and you¿ve got 36 races to win for points and you¿ve only got one race to win for the money. I saw a lot of drivers trying a lot harder in The Winston than I have in a lot of other races.¿

DALE JARRETT: ¿Wow, $1 million. That¿s pretty cool. That¿s a lot of money. I don¿t care where you¿ve been, what you¿ve done or how much you¿ve won, I¿d say that will be a battle. You go out to win and that¿s all that matters. When you throw an incentive like $1 million around, if you didn¿t think it was fun before, I think that will get your attention. There¿s not much give and take. You run as hard as you can to win.¿

MICHAEL WALTRIP (1996 Winner): ¿I¿ve won it once and it would be cool to win it again. The Winston¿s a great race. As we go forward and as I¿m able to win more races, it will become more obvious to me how much that win meant.¿

MATT KENSETH: ¿It¿s always fun racing in The Winston. You can go out there and run as hard as you can. If you blow up, well you blew up. If the car doesn¿t work because we were trying some different stuff, at least we went for it. Winning the pole last year was pretty cool because it was the pit stop that won us the pole and that was really big for the crew. The whole team gets to be a part of The Winston.¿

JOHNNY BENSON: ¿The $1 million is cool, but it¿s still The Winston. You want to win it whether it pays $100,000 or $1 million. It¿s fun because it¿s a non-points race. You can go at it with an all-or-nothing attitude. If you end up third, that¿s no different than ending up 10th. Also, the atmosphere is just unbelievable.¿

RICKY CRAVEN: ¿It¿s the equivalent of baseball¿s All-Star game or the Pro Bowl for the NFL. It is so difficult just to get into the race¿there are no free passes. It¿s a classic all-star race.¿

WARD BURTON: ¿The $1 million should make a few fireworks fly.¿

KURT BUSCH: ¿The Winston has a unique intensity about it. It takes us all back to when we were running 30 laps in a late model on a Saturday night and we knew we had to win. It seemed so laid back when I jumped in the car last year, but there¿s so much pressure to perform that it is a weird combination.¿

TERRY LABONTE (2-Time Winner): ¿It¿s one of my favorite races. They keep messing with the format, but it¿s still very exciting. It¿s as good as any other race, if not better.¿

BOBBY LABONTE: ¿The Winston is pretty much wide open. You enjoy The Winston if you run well. I think we won the pole the first time we were in The Winston. We¿ve finished second a couple of times. We even spun through the grass once and still finished second.¿

ELLIOTT SADLER: ¿That race is a lot of fun. I think it¿s more fun for the crew and the fans because there are no points. To go there, put on a show for the fans and let it all hang out is great. You¿re either going to win or wreck. That¿s the attitude you¿ve got to have.¿

JAMIE McMURRAY: ¿I¿m really excited about being in The Winston. Not just because it¿s a big-paying race, but because only winners are in that race. Every year there¿s something you can remember about The Winston.¿

STERLING MARLIN: ¿With $1 million to win, it will get interesting. I¿ve run second three times. One time I wrecked the (No.) 4 car and we had to use a backup car that had mix-matched headers on it. I didn¿t think it would run a lick. We started dead last and finished second.¿

BILL ELLIOTT (1986 Winner): ¿When (Dale) Earnhardt and I beat our fenders off that day, that¿s my best memory from The Winston. If you¿ve got a good car, it¿s a lot of fun. If you¿ve got a bad car, it¿s no fun at all.¿

RUSTY WALLACE (1989 Winner): ¿I love running that race for the fans. The $1 million is great, but I don¿t know how I can drive any harder. I hit the wall so hard last year I broke my foot. The Winston that stands out for me was when I spun Darrell (Waltrip) out in 1989. I took the $200,000 grand and he said, ¿I hope you choke on that,¿ and I said, ¿Don¿t worry, I won¿t.¿ That was fun. I didn¿t mean to spin him out, but I was going for it.¿

RICKY RUDD: ¿The Winston is an intense night, but in a fun way. I don¿t know how to describe it, other than you sense from the competitors that it¿s like being in a very important high-school sporting event. It¿s at night, under the lights with the adrenaline flowing.¿

Tickets for the May 17 running of The Winston, which also includes The Winston Open, the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 100 for the NASCAR Goody¿s Dash Series and Miller Time Live Rock ¿n¿ Racing concert featuring the Goo Goo Dolls, start at just $21 and can be obtained online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.