Race Weekend Central

Up To Speed: Brad Keselowski Stands By Complicated All-Star Format

In perhaps what was the most complicated Sprint All-Star Race format in the history of the exhibition event, many drivers went in without a full comprehension of what the rules were, and left still not knowing. Not only that, but the drivers were able to find some holes in NASCAR’s plot to bring some life back into a race that in previous years hadn’t lived up to the hype.

One incident in particular was when Matt Kenseth pushed the limit on NASCAR’s requirement for teams to make a green-flag pit stop with a minimum of two tires. He was leading as Jamie McMurray spun on Lap 46, bringing the caution out. Because Kenseth had not pitted yet, he was forced to make a pit stop under yellow, which generated a one-lap penalty from NASCAR for not meeting the requirements of the 50-lap segment.

This created even more confusion.

Many drivers were trapped a lap down when the caution came out as they had just finished making their stop as well. Kenseth, though penalized, was still scored as the leader. However, because of this irregular situation, the lapped cars weren’t able to take a wave-around like they would have in a regular race scenario.

Many teams and drivers were unsure of what their position was on track, as they were now being scored a lap down, when in “normal” racing conditions, they would have been able to get their lap back via the wave-around.

Kenseth, of course, was confused and frustrated after the race was over.

“I still don’t understand,” Kenseth said. “I’ve never been this confused in a race car in my entire life. I hope everybody watching understands because I have no idea what happened ever since the first car pitted until right now.”

Tony Stewart was already frustrated after having been involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 72, but the format he found confusing just added insult to injury.

“I’m as baffled as everybody,” Stewart said. “I don’t know how in the hell we were scored a lap down after they stopped the [No.] 20 car [of Kenseth] and the pit everybody together a lap down, then lead lap and then lap down. It’s the most screwed up All-Star Race I’ve ever been a part of. I’m glad it’s my last one. I’m all right. I’m just madder than hell because I don’t understand how the hell they’ve officiated this from start to finish.”

Multiple drivers experienced similar sentiments, saying the format needs to be simplified,

(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski were arguably the only two drivers who were actually happy with the new format. (Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)

and that you can’t “make” exciting finishes happen just by changing up the format.

Brad Keselowski is largely credited for having constructed this format. Though he admitted that it was complicated, he stuck by the format, saying that it did exactly what it was supposed to do: created exciting racing and generate some late-race excitement.

“There was a next-to-last lap pass for the lead,” Keselowski explained. “There were several passes for the lead.  The last four races there hasn’t been a pass for the lead in the last 20 or 30 laps.  I think our fans deserve a better format than that and they got that today.  I don’t know how you can get much more compelling racing than what we saw today, so they need to get unconfused and enjoy the racing.”

Was this perhaps because Keselowski finished second, right behind Team Penske teammate Joey Logano?

Maybe. Maybe not.

However, reading and hearing many of the comments after the race, it certainly seems that the Penske duo were the only two that actually liked the format. Even then, Logano admitted post-race that he didn’t even understand what was going on most of the time.

“There was a point I came over the radio and said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on,” Logano said. “I don’t really want to know what’s going on.  Let me drive the car and you call the race because I was confused. All I know is if there’s a car in front of me, we should pass them.  That’s kind of where my head was. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think it is.

“It’s complicated for this man [crew chief Todd Gordon], but not so much for me. Sometimes, the simple life is a little easier inside your racecar. I had my hands full with enough things, so I was able to focus in on my job and Todd was able to focus in on his job.”

It’s hard to imagine the format will stay the same for the 2017 (insert title sponsor name here) All-Star Race, even with such a “glowing” review from its framer. In fact, this might be the one time where fans and (most) competitors alike agree that the format actually should change next year.

Keselowski was right. The All-Star Race did need some spicing up. Bu, after the race Saturday night, it seems like no one really wanted this.

About the author

Promoted to editor in 2013, Summer is one of Frontstretch’s fast-rising young talents. While contributing to social media efforts, she also writes the weekly "Up To Speed" column. A Kansas native, Summer graduated with a Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2015. She also contributes to other media outlets such as Kickin' The Tires.

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A exhibition that really doesn’t mean anything, especially in the “regular season”. What I find funny is there is more noise about this stupid race than there is regarding the elimination of all good by teams after race 26 and then there is the NASCAR welfare reset after 3 races for 3 times, then the survivor of that bull gets to race 4 other drivers and then and only then (with NASCARS blessing) they are crowned a “season long” Champ. Many fans cheer and cheer and say so and so “deserved it” (when they did not), but these same idiots are enraged at the format of a basically meaningless race. Can NASCAR fans be any dumber? My observation!


kb, you are absolutely correct. Everything I hear is how convoluted the All Star format was, but not a word on the convoluted chase formats. I heard today on Siriusxm Nascar radio the one host said enough with the gimmicks for the All Star race he just wants a race where they drop the green and race till the checkered flag. This same host though just loves the chase format , with all the gimmicks.
The format for the ALL Star race was fine it was just the keystone cops officiating the race. My friends and I watching the race know enough to give the teams their lap back after Kennseths penalty. I mean why would you penalize teams who did it right because one team did it wrong and the officials agree the team did it wrong but we can’t change it.
One consistent thing about Nascar is how unconsistent theyare when it comes to officiating. I mean they are just learning, they have only been officiating races for 60 plus years.


Right on Duane. The majority of NASCAR fans are hypocrites and the media is too. If as much effort was put into protesting “The Chase” as they did this meaningless race…The pitchfork and torch crowd might do some good. The whining about this stupid race is amazing, but then again not really.


Why did the caution laps count in a 50 lap “race”? I guess Brian figures ten laps of follow the leader under yellow is the same as ten laps of follow the leader under green.

Biff Baynehouse

Actually, the driver drives & the CC typically decides pit strategy. In this instances, a pit strategy prolly would be decided before hand in their hauler. Who’s fault is it if the CC’s & team’s over looked a flaw? Everyone else considered the possibility that occurred (#1’s late segment spin)! Nascars fault? Joey’s or Brad’s fault? I BEG to differ!
Most of the whinging is central to the unfortunate performances of “popular” drivers & an “unpopular” driver beating down the poster-children. Aka: VERY typical sophomoric sour grapes from indignity sore losers. Regardless, the format’s intricacies have been known since May 6th. So it is inexplicable (for the #20 crew) to go on track whilst NOT comprehending it’s nuances. They gambled & got screwed by their own hand &, as usual, are crying about on the fate of their own flawed decisions & actions, & attempting to rationalize blame on outside sources! Very, very typically JGR horse-pucky!
Moreover, the JGR screw-ups & whinging were priceless & added a great deal to the entertainment value of the event! I’d buy that for a dollar every year & eat it morning, noon & night! I LOVED every minute of it! This was one of the best All-Star events in history, period! The tight racing & many statistical parameters prove it. Kudos Nascar!

Biff Baynehouse

***Who’s fault is it if the CC & team overlooked a parameter & employ a flawed strategy?


The format was great, the racing was great. Just shut up and drive, Ton-e.


Brian stands behind his “brilliant” ideas too.

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