The 29th running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race is set to run tonight a Charlotte Motor Speedway. The race has undergone 11 format changes in its existence and the question is, how will this latest tweak affect how the drivers race? Some say it will have no affect, others believe they will go balls to the wall from lap 1 to lap 90 and a select few think it is a terrible change. We’ve already seen success with one of their changes and that was no pit road speed limit which produced one of the most exciting qualifying sessions I’ve ever seen Friday afternoon.
Well, here’s my thoughts on how this format will affect the 90 lap sprint race and my predictions are all fairly positive. Let’s start with the segments. We have four 20 lap dashes followed by a 10 lap fight to the finish. I like these rather short segments; it doesn’t allow anyone to relax. You have to go go full boar knowing you only have 20 laps before the next segment, it just naturally intensifies the racing on the track. How is another way you can intensify the racing? Well….you could throw a bonus $1,000,000 in front of these guys and also tell them that the lineup for pit stops prior to the 10 lap sprint will be determined by their average finish from the first four segments.
With that being said, you better get up on that wheel and keep that car out front the whole race if you want a shot at the big money. 5-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson stated in the media center yesterday that you won’t see anyone waving fellow competitors by like we usually do in the 400 and 500 mile marathons we run each week. I love the average finish rule they threw in this year, it will add excitement and force the drivers to go as hard as they can for every spot the whole event and never giving an inch. I like the idea behind the $1,000,000 too but I doubt anyone will do it. It is an interesting concept though and Carl Edwards made a good point yesterday when he said “if I win the first and second segments, I might do something pretty stupid trying to win the 3rd segment.” If a driver feels they have a shot at that million dollar bonus, you can bet that they will go for it at all costs.
By the way, another factor that always seems to heighten the intensity of these NASCAR races is the possibility of rain. Yes, rain is in the forecast for tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hit or miss thunderstorms are lurking around the racetrack and with the threat of the race ending at any moment, you are going to see a free for all around lap 45. (Halfway point of the race) There will be 22 drivers in this All-Star Race and we already know who 19 of them will be. The other three will be determined tonight with the Fan Vote and the two transfer drivers from the Sprint Showdown. My pick to win it all is Kurt or Kyle Busch. A short sprint race where drivers are forced to be aggressive and where you must put the car in places most wouldn’t dare compliments the driving style of these two nicely. Feel free to tell me your thoughts on how you think this race will unfold and who will come out on top when the dust settles.