New formats for both the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star race and the Sprint Showdown were announced Friday afternoon.
There will be three segments of 50, 50, and 13 laps for the All-Star race. The field will still be set by qualifying. Both 50 lap segments will feature the field having to take a minimum two tire pit stop under green. The starting field for the start of the second 50 lap segment will be determined after a mandatory minimum two tire pit stop by the field. Pits for both segments will close after lap 35, so drivers will finish each segment with at least 15 laps on their tires.
Things get a little hairy after the second segment. A random draw will determine whether the top nine, ten, or eleven drivers in the field will come down pit road for a mandatory four tire pit stop as pit road is closed for the rest of the field. The final segment, theoretically, will become a 13 lap dash as the faster cars on new tires try to race back to the front against the slower cars on old tires. Only green flag laps count in the final segment, and there will be NASCAR Overtime if need be.
The Sprint Showdown, the “last chance race” for drivers who have not qualified for the All-Star race, will go from two segments to three segments of 20, 20, and 10 laps respectively. The starting field will be determined by practice speeds, and after both 20 lap segments the field for the next segment will be determined after the field takes a mandatory minimum two tire pit stop.
The winners from these three segments, the winner of the fan vote, and other top finishers to ensure there are at least 20 cars in the All-Star race will advance. After winning their segment, the driver in question will park the car for the rest of the night. As of right now, if there are no new qualified race winners in the next two weeks, second place in the Showdown’s final segment will also advance.
The qualifications to make the All-Star race outright (Win a race last year or this year, be a former champion, or be a former All-Star race winner) remain the same. It’s unclear as of this writing if NASCAR has removed the year limit for champions, as there has typically been a ten year limit on how long champions can still enter the race on that qualification. For example, Bobby Labonte was in the 2010 All-Star race as the 2000 champion but was not eligible in 2011 as ten years had passed since his lone Sprint Cup championship. Labonte would be the lone active Sprint Cup series driver who would benefit from this. NASCAR removed the ten year limit on ASR winners a few years ago as Ryan Newman is still eligible off of his 2003 All-Star race win.
“We worked with NASCAR and talked to several drivers to gather feedback for what they thought would make the very best race for the fans,” Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith said in the press release announcing the new rules.
“The drivers don’t all agree on the perfect strategy, which means some drivers will be fighting on race-worn tires to stay up front at the end, while others will be charging through the field on new tires after the final pit stop,” Smith continued. “At the end of the final shootout, one driver will have a million reasons why ‘13’ is a lucky number.”
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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