Latest All-Star Format Change Interesting, Yet Excessiveby Kyle Pokrefky May 22, 2016 0 comments
With the dust from its first running freshly settled, the new format for the Sprint All-Star Race threw up plenty of question marks on Saturday night.
Announced at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago, the new format put forward with the help of the drivers council boasted several significant changes to the traditional May exhibition race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Extended to 113 laps over three segments, this year’s running featured mandated green-flag stops prior to a certain lap of each segment and mandatory pit stops between segments with only a select number of drivers being called to pit road ahead of the final segment.
I’ll give you a second to clasp your hands to the side of your head to halt its spinning.
The question exiting an All-Star Race with a bizarre myriad of format changes is simple – was any of it really necessary to put on a great race?
While the format provided for some confusion, the racing itself on the track was phenomenal – the highlight of this being the final duel to the checkered flag between eventual winner Joey Logano and Kyle Larson.
The low-downforce aero package NASCAR has been utilizing in the Sprint Cup Series leading into today’s race played a big part into making the racing what it was, and the further tweaks the sanctioning body implemented for this weekend certainly helped as well.
For testing modifications to the cars, the All-Star Race is the perfect testing ground. At the end of the day, it’s a race that ultimately means nothing – although Logano would certainly beg to differ considering he pocketed a cool $1,000,000 from Saturday’s victory.
If there’s any real changes that can be made to the All-Star Race to make it exciting, it’d be to transition it to an event to test new ideas for the sport’s racing product.
In the current context of NASCAR’s push to improve its on-track product, future races could be held with lower amounts of downforce compared to the base vehicle for a given race year. Or, as an alternative, each race could feature whatever aerodynamic doohickeys NASCAR wants to test out as a ‘one night only’ sort of deal. (Dive planes? Dive planes.)
This year’s All-Star Race may have left a little to be desired on the table, however, it’s not too early to get back to the drawing board for 2017.
Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images