Alright, let’s try to wrap our heads around this. The Sprint All-Star Race is always an event that is different from its point-earning cohorts on the schedule. There’s different qualifying formats, different ways to get into the race, and the race in itself is broken up into different aspects, from segments to pit stops, and even where to line up.
This past Saturday night, things were all out of sorts even more so than usual at this race. Heck, just making it to the All-Star Race was a task in itself.
Mother Nature decided to postpone the Sprint Showdown, which was set for Friday night, and moved it to Saturday afternoon.
It meant everything on Saturday was practically back-to-back…to back again.
It meant practice for the drivers already in the race, then the Showdown in the late morning. After that, the Camping World Trucks held their race which also had gotten postponed due to the rain. Then came qualifying, the wildest format even before the All-Star Race. Three laps around the Charlotte Motor Speedway, with a pit stop after the second lap. However, that stop comes after the driver blasts down pit road at full speed, and blasts off just as fast.
Unfortunately, not even that took place because rain again decided to play havoc.
Finally, the race itself was ready to go. Three segments, two each of 50 laps, then a 13-lap dash, with the winner getting $1 million. Oh, but there’s more. In the first segment, it was required to make a 4-tire pit stop at some point in the segment under green-flag conditions. After the first 50 laps, all cars must pit for a minimum of two tires.
Second segment is the same, except the four-tire stop had to come before lap 85, or lap 35 in the segment. Then after the second segment, a random draw comes into play to say whether the first 9, 10, 11 or 12 cars were required to come onto pit road for a minimum of a two-tire pit stop.
The final 13-lap segment meant only 13 green-flag laps would count, and NASCAR’s overtime procedure was in play.
So, does everyone understand, or is everyone still rather confused?
Well, that’s pretty much the case for everyone. The drivers themselves at certain moments were all confused, especially in the second segment when Matt Kenseth failed to pit under green before the cut-off, and that put over half the field a lap down. Sure Kenseth was penalized, but with half the field down a lap, the last segment pretty much was a wash. With only 13 cars on the lead lap, the random draw meant the top-11 had to pit.
With only two cars forced to stay out, it was like pulling the parachute on a funny car after going the 1000-foot distance, the speed difference was clear.
Was there great racing, absolutely, but in the end this year’s All-Star Race soon became an All-Star Fiasco. In a sense, since I was away at another event, I missed it. So, I’m glad I missed all this.
SPRINT SHOWDOWN TRANSFERS: Trevor Bayne (segment 1), Greg Biffle (segment 2), Kyle Larson (segment 3)
FAN VOTE TRANSFERS: Chase Elliott (highest vote count), Danica Patrick (runner-up)
SEGMENT 1 LEADER: Carl Edwards
SEGMENT 2 LEADER: Kyle Larson
RESULTS: 1-Logano 2-Keselowski 3-Earnhardt Jr. 4-Edwards 5-Kurt Busch 6-Elliott 7-Bayne 8-Biffle 9-Hamlin 10-Kyle Busch
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Harvick 12-Johnson 18-Kenseth 20-Stewart