Now I’m not really one to put down a race, or its format, because normally each week is the same thing. Race goes green, all laps count, and there are three attempts at a Green-White-Checkered finish, no matter what.
The All-Star Race has a different format overall, from the moment teams qualify to how the race is set up, and the rules with it.
But unfortunately, in my eyes, the last three years of this race have really been sort of lack-luster. NASCAR in 2011 decided to go back and bring the “10-lap dash” to end the race, which was very popular in the 1990’s and worked well with the kind of racing and chassis run at that time. But truthfully, with these newer chassis and especially with this new car, once someone gets the lead and is clear of traffic, it’s a race for second because the leader is gone.
All three years that this format has been done, the last 10-lap segment has seen no cautions, and the battle for the lead may last a lap or two, but that’s it. The excitement for that final segment is not there, not like it used to be.
Saturday night, once Jimmie Johnson got around Kasey Kahne in that final segment, at that moment the race was done. It seems like the segment idea is still a good move, but maybe there is an idea that could give this a more “local race” feel. Here’s what I mean, at the local dirt tracks across the country, including Clearfield’s reopened America’s Raceway Park, the field is split into heat races. NASCAR can still do this, and use qualifying results to determine the line-up for the heats, and determine the amount of heats needed to make the race.
Let’s use this year’s line-up as an example. Prior to the Sprint Showdown and the fan vote, there were 19 drivers in the field. Those drivers can get split into two heats, 10 and nine cars respectively, and the top-five from each can move into the main event. There are your first two segments. Then, the drivers that didn’t make the top-five, along with the Showdown winner, runner-up, and the fan-vote winner will race in a Last-Chance Qualifier. Take, say, the top-six out of that race, and then use qualifying to determine how they line-up prior to the long main event.
NASCAR can throw a caution midway through the main event, which would be longer than the heats, and teams would have to make a pit stop for tires, and however they come out is how they line up for the restart.
Some elements from the previous formats can be used – as in up till the halfway point of the feature all laps count, but then after that only green-flag laps count.
Don’t get me wrong, the All-Star Race is still a great event, as it celebrates the best drivers from the previous year and gives them a chance to win a $1 million paycheck. It just seems like the excitement truly comes the night before in seeing the three-lap qualifying run that includes a four-tire pit stop. The excitement that was in the final 10-lap dash has faded.
Maybe NASCAR should consider a makeover for next year’s race. Whether it will happen, that is to be determined.
Sprint Showdown Winner: Jamie McMurray
Sprint Showdown Runner-Up: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Sprint Fan-Vote Winner: Danica Patrick
Segment 1 Winner: Kurt Busch
Segment 2 Winner: Kyle Busch
Segment 3 Winner: Kyle Busch
Segment 4 Winner: Kurt Busch
RESULTS: 1-Johnson 2-Logano 3-Kyle Busch 4-Kahne 5-Kurt Busch 6-Hamlin 7-Earnhardt Jr. 8-McMurray 9-Kenseth 10-Edwards
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Gordon 14-Stewart 20-Patrick 22-Keselowski
CAUTIONS: Lap 9-15 (Rain), 20-20 (Competition), 26-28 (#55 Spin-FS), 40-40 (Competition), 60-60 (Competition), 68-70 (Debris), 80-80 (Competition).
TIME OF RACE: 1 Hr, 29 Mins, 20 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 90.672 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.722 Seconds