The All-Star Race seems to have lost its luster as of late. What should the future of the event be? – Kristen D., Omaha, Neb.
I’m so glad you asked. Because I have some thoughts.
The All-Star Race doesn’t have a place on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule anymore. It’s not going away anytime soon, though. Partly due to the television contract requiring a certain number of events to be broadcasted, partly due to Speedway Motorsports Inc. not wanting to voluntarily give up a date (and who could blame it?), partly because all parties involved still believe the event has an appeal.
And frankly, it does. I’m not debating that. But as the schedule is structured right now, it doesn’t need to be a thing.
I don’t subscribe to the notion that NASCAR has All-Star Races every Sunday because the best drivers are out there. But that’s not … untrue.
However, The Clash at The Coliseum this year to open up the 2022 season gave me all the vibes of everything the All-Star Race has been and should be: Glitz, glamor, unpredictability, pizzaz, star appeal and, above all else, an easy to digest format for longtime traditional and new surface level fans.
The current format (which I’m not going to try to explain because it just ain’t worth it) doesn’t do that. It’s gotten so extensive, convoluted and hard to digest, and that’s not good for anybody.
Not to mention due to the charter agreement, countless open teams will be traveling hundreds of miles to Texas Motor Speedway to unload, race for a few minutes in the open, load up and drive home. Sure, for the drivers and teams that advance to the big show, it’s worth it (maybe). But the vast majority of the open teams won’t be advancing.
I’ll go out on a limb and say for teams like Live Fast Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing, even JTG Daugherty Racing and the like, it’s not great financially or mentally. With only one off-weekend spliced in over the course of 37 weeks, any possible off time for those in the industry is of paramount importance.
Don’t hit me with that “people would kill to travel the country and have those jobs!” Because it’s OK to love your job and also not want to work 50-plus-hour weeks with no breaks. That’s unhealthy and not sustainable for humans.
Plus, $1 million isn’t an insignificant sum of money by any means. But for most drivers and teams in the field, I’d be willing to bet they’d take another off-weekend instead of a chance at $1 million seven days a week.
Denny Hamlin said it’s time to stop promoting the all-star race as a race for $1 million. He explains why and also gives his thoughts on the format: pic.twitter.com/qe76qzcXnN
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) May 18, 2022
I’ll be watching the All-Star Race this weekend — and will enjoy it. But something needs to be done to drastically change this event. Getting rid of it makes the most sense. But in reality, it likely won’t happen until 2025 at the earliest.
Chevrolet looked pretty unbeatable early this season, but Toyota’s performance at Kansas Speedway was impressive. Is is too early to say Toyota has surpassed the bowtie brigade? – Daniel K., Plano, Texas
Despite placing all six of their cars inside the top 10 at Kansas and multiple Toyotas having legitimate race-winning speed, I need to see more sustained success if I were to jump them ahead of Chevrolet in terms of 2022 overall performance.
When you take a look at the points, Chevy has five cars inside the top 10 while Toyota has three. But given that’s 50% of Toyota’s fleet and doesn’t come close to half of Chevy’s, that is pretty impressive. Chevy’s seven wins spanning Ross Chastain and Hendrick Motorsports’ foursome outscore Toyota’s three (the Busch Brothers and Denny Hamlin) as well.
Chevy’s advantage it held for most of 2021 carried over into the start of 2022, and if it’s able to hold that for the entirety of this season, even it would be impressed and a bit surprised. Toyota has entirely too many championship-caliber individuals tinkering on its equipment tirelessly to stand idly by (as does Ford, but woof, it has some significant upgrades and work to do).
But as things currently stand, the sheer number of top fives, top 10s and wins from Chevrolet, combined with the raw speed from Hendrick, Richard Childress Racing, Trackhouse Racing Team and even newfound pace from JTG gives it the edge over Toyota still.
About the author
Davey is in his fifth season with Frontstretch and currently serves as a multimedia editor and reporter. He authors the "NASCAR Mailbox" column, spearheads the site's video content and hosts the Frontstretch Podcast weekly. He's covered the K&N Pro Series and ARCA extensively for NASCAR.com and currently serves as an associate producer for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and production assistant for NBC Sports Washington. Follow him on Twitter @DaveyCenter.