Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: What Should NASCAR Change About the All-Star Race?

The All-Star Race was met with mixed reactions. Should NASCAR try the same format next season or opt for one that’s easier to understand?

Dustin Albino, Contributor: The concept was good, but the execution was awful. If it weren’t for Jamie McMurray cutting his tire causing a caution, I don’t think we would be having this discussion. However, it seemed like none of the drivers liked it and it was so hard to follow at times. I think even NASCAR was confused. It needs to be changed. The perfect format is out there; NASCAR just needs to find it. On the bright side ,the racing was excellent.

Amy Henderson, Senior Editor: They should stick with it with a few minor tweaks, including mandating the first segment pit stop before a certain lap. It was a fantastic show and would have been even better if they’d been able to line up for the final segment as originally envisioned.  One change I’d make if I was in charge? Run a qualifying segment of 15 laps with a green-flag stop in the hottest part of the afternoon and immediately impound the cars until the main event, then run the Showdown after that, either starting those cars last or via a draw. But really, the racing last Saturday was great, and if not for one hiccup that NASCAR didn’t anticipate, everyone would be talking about how great it was.

Mark Howell, Senior Writer: The Brad Keselowski-formulated format seemed headed for success until McMurray’s spin and the subsequent caution period. Had the stage stayed under green until the laps were completed, this year’s  All-Star Race would have been fine. The racing was great, even though the running order was nothing short of impossible to follow.

Bryan Gable, Staff Writer: It would be best to go back to the drawing board.  This year’s format was based around the idea that NASCAR could create better racing by dictating when drivers could pit.  As it turned out, the aero package was what really made the racing good, while the pit stop rules created confusion.  There’s a lesson to be learned from that result.  If NASCAR goes for a simpler format with more emphasis on the cars and reducing downforce, we can avoid the mess that this year’s All-Star Race produced in the future.

Phil Allaway, Newsletter Editor: They should make some minor adjustments in order to prevent drivers who followed the rules from getting trapped a lap down because someone screwed up.  They could institute a rule saying that if a situation similar to what happened to Matt Kenseth happens again, then anyone between the penalized leader and the driver that would take over would be allowed a free wave-around and be able to pit with the leaders.  I still don’t like segments in the Sprint Showdown and would rather have the top three finishers at the end of the race transfer.

Lost in the shuffle of the All-Star Race was a new tire compound and a few tweaks to the rules package for the cars.  From that standpoint, was the race a success, and should NASCAR consider instituting the rear-end rules they ran in that race permanently after Saturday’s performance?

Henderson: Let’s reserve judgment until after the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday.  There’s a reason they ran the rule last week and not this week at the same track: to gain comparison.  NASCAR announced other changes they’re trying at Michigan and Kentucky, so throwing the kitchen sink at it might not be the best approach.  Once they hit on something that works, I’m not opposed to adding it to the package before the end of the year if it’s not a major change that will send teams scrambling to rebuild cars.

Vito Pugliese, Senior Writer: These cars race the best when they’re sliding around, not stuck to the ground. The tire is more likely the reason for the improved competition, as evidenced by Jimmie Johnson getting absolutely obliterated as soon as the green flag dropped in the final segment. Don’t think rear end skew had much to do with Joey Logano catching Kyle Larson in the final laps, or the No. 6 car looking like it did in the 1990s for a change, instead of being perpetually one lap down.

Allaway: The tires probably played a bigger role than the rules package, but got much less discussion. As for the rear-end rules, some of that stuff is already permanent. The fans that generated a rudimentary form of ground effects are now banned, period. That might help the actual on-track product more than anything. I don’t believe that the skew rules they used Saturday would change much. It’s more of an aesthetic kind of thing.

Albino: The racing was excellent during the All-Star Race, but I say leave it alone. The on-track racing this season has been really good, and I think for once NASCAR should leave something alone. Changing rules so often it is so expensive on the teams. That hurts the smaller teams because once they get a hand on the current rules package, it changes. NASCAR needs to remain more consistent and by leaving the rules the same for this year would help. If Goodyear can bring tires that wear than it leads to great racing. Whenever a car has to stop for tires before the fuel window is closed makes for better racing. 

Jeff Wolfe, Senior Writer: From the competition standpoint it was a great race; several different leaders and a battle for the lead at the end. I like the idea of drivers and teams having to manager their tires and the element of strategy it brings. If any tweak in the rules that brings better competition on the track, I’m all for it.

The 100th Indianapolis 500 is this weekend, but not a single current NASCAR driver is attempting the double. What NASCAR driver would you like to see in the greatest spectacle in racing?

Pugliese: Kurt Busch again, and even though he isn’t doing it again, Tony Stewart. Many forget that Smoke sat on the pole at Indy in his 1996 rookie season in the series.

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)
Kurt Busch was the last NASCAR driver to attempt “The Double” in 2014. (Photo: Nigel Kinrade/NKP)

Howell: I’d love to see Kurt Busch try it again; he ran well last time out. I’d also be interested in seeing Jimmie Johnson try his hand at open-wheel cars in the 500. Not sure if he counts as a NASCAR driver anymore, but it’d be cool to see Jeff Gordon strap in for a shot at the Borg-Warner trophy.

Gable: I’d like to see the two drivers who are best known for racing anything, anywhere, anytime: Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch.

Albino: Kyle Larson. He’s with the right team in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. That said, I don’t think he will compete in it anytime soon, nor will any NASCAR driver. But if one did, Larson is fearless, and I feel like he would have an awesome showing at Indy. He would have the equipment to run well.

Wolfe: I would love to see AJ Allmendinger give the double a try. He’s certainly physically capable of doing it. He has IndyCar experience, and it would be great publicity for a one-car NASCAR team, too. Maybe his old boss Mr. Penske could come up with something next year.

Henderson: I’m going with three: Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, because they’re both phenomenal talents and it would be fun to see what they can do in those cars, and Casey Mears, because he’s a decent open-wheeler and missed a chance to compete at Indy due to a crash several years ago, and it’s a little piece of unfinished business.

With so many stars still unable to find victory lane, could the Camping World Truck Series see more winners than Chase berths?

Allaway: Of the three series with Chases, the Camping World Truck Series is the only series of the three where this would even be remotely possible.  And I don’t just think that it’s a possibility — it’s a near certainty.  I suppose that’s a good thing, right? Yes, Matt Crafton has won the last two races, but a number of drivers have been very competitive so far this year.  The spread-out schedule can skew things, but I think we’ll see 10 different drivers win before the Chase starts; so far we’ve had four that are eligible.  Still got to produce.

Albino: Most definitely, which is good because points are relevant again. The Truck Series is probably the most competitive it has ever been, and there are 10-12 different teams that could win each race. It is good racing, and I predict roughly nine or 10 different teams will go to Victory Lane. The Chase helps this series because of how competitive it is.

Wolfe: I think it’s possible, given the high competitiveness of the Truck Series. The truck race is always entertaining to watch and the unpredictability of who is going to win makes it well worth tuning in.

Howell: It’s a definite possibility. The NCWTS is wildly competitive with what seems to be a bunch of fairly evenly matched teams. There’s no shortage of talent in the series (both young and not so young), and there’s newfound interest in amassing points to make the postseason. The trucks could easily provide fans with the most exciting championship run in NASCAR this year.

Gable: Absolutely. The Truck Series only has an eight-driver Chase, and there are definitely eight teams that have displayed winning potential.  However, there are only 10 races left in the regular season for the Truck Series.  Those who are still looking for their first win of the year will be increasingly hard-pressed to get it.

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As with the Chase, the best tweak to the All-Star Race would be extinction.


A quick sprint is what it should be.

Cut down on the number of drivers (1 winner on votes, 1 winner from the Sprint Showdown) + the usual suspects.

Set the distance at 70 laps.
Only green flag laps count.
Increase the purse, give a cash bonus (say $25000) to the driver’s leading after 10,25,40 and 55 laps.
Give a matching amount to a charity of the Driver’s Choice.

All other gimmicks need to be either before or after the race. Not during it.

Broken Arrow

What to do with the All-Star race? Make it disappear. I hate All-Star events in all sports, but in NASCAR it is especially ridiculous since the same drivers race in this event that race in every single other event of the season. It is a waste of a potentially great racing weekend. Add a road race, a dirt race, go to the Milwaukee Mile. Anything but this gimmicky, over-hyped circus. I believe 100% of drivers would rather win the Coke 600 than this farce. The fans who pay money to see it are suckers for sure. And no, I didn’t watch a single lap, didn’t even bother to check who won until Monday evening.

Tony Geinzer

I’d think why not have the All Star Race be a Wednesday Night before Memorial Day Weekend with a Network Airwave and have the Coca Cola 600 be under the Friday Night Lights. I think Saturday would be a rosier insurance day and I would want to see the Wildcard and the All Star be used as qualifying for the Coke 600 like it was the K and N Showdown in Pro Stock Car. And, I doubt this would have been the right year to second guess home if the All Star was a Points Race, but, even if the Wild Card Suffered for too many winners like 2002, it be better racing

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