Charlotte Motor Speedway makes drastic changes to Sprint All-Star Race

Image courtesy of @CLTMotorSpeedway.

Image courtesy of @CLTMotorSpeedway.

Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager Marcus Smith said earlier this week that “people can expect controversial changes” to the Sprint All-Star Race. He wasn’t lying.

The All-Star Race will feature drastic changes to the format with only nine, 10 or 11 cars allowed to pit for four tires on the final pit stop. Thirteen laps will decide the winner of the $1 million prize, with the drivers in the back having fresh tires and those in the front fighting them off to win the event.

“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,” Smith said. “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.

“At the end of the final shootout, one driver will have a million reasons why ‘13’ is a lucky number.”

Smith said the rule change was approved by CMS after having the Driver’s Council involved in discussions.

NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE FORMAT (MAY 21):

  • Segment 1 (50 laps): Field set by qualifying, mandatory green-flag pit stop for a minimum of two tires;
  • Break 1 (3-5 minutes): Mandatory pit stop with a minimum two-tire change before Segment 2;
  • Segment 2 (50 laps): Field set by pit-road exit, one mandatory green-flag pit stop for a minimum of two tires before lap 85;
  • Break 2 (3-5 minutes): Random draw to decide whether the top nine, 10 or 11 cars must enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop, pit road closed for all other cars, pit-road exit determines Segment 3 starting order, cars leaving pit road line up behind cars that did not pit;
  • Segment 3 (13 laps): Only green-flag laps count (NASCAR Overtime procedures apply).

SPRINT SHOWDOWN FORMAT (MAY 20):

  • Segment 1 (20 laps): Field set by practice speed, winner advances to NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and does not continue in Showdown;
  • Segment 2 (20 laps): Field set by pit-road order after mandatory minimum two-tire pit stop, winner advances to NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and does not continue in Showdown;
  • Segment 3 (10 laps): Field set by pit-road order after mandatory minimum two-tire pit stop, winner advances to NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (NASCAR Overtime rules apply).

NASCAR fans have complained in the past about a lack of last-lap passing in the All-Star Race, making for a lackluster finish. With the new rules, drivers will have to fight to return to the lead in the final laps on May 21.

Since its inception, the All-Star Race has always found ways to differentiate itself from normal races. Last season, qualifying with full-speed pit stops was implemented to give even the lead up to the race a distinctly different feeling.

While change is sometimes hard for NASCAR fans to accept, Brad Keselowski offered his thoughts on why it’s a great move for the sport.

NASCAR returns to North Carolina with the 10 Days of Thunder in Charlotte, highlighted by the Sprint All-Star Race on May 21 and Coca-Cola 600 on May 29. With the updated rules for the All-Star event and a new aero package for the main event, this year’s race promises to offer excitement for NASCAR fans.

 

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