First and foremost, congratulations to Carl Edwards on your Sprint All-Star Victory Saturday night at Charlotte.
Now, let's get down to business here. The Sprint All-Star Race is hyped every year to provide some of the best racing in the business as NASCAR's best go all out for $1 million, and in years past, it's done just that. Last night however, it failed to do much of anything, with the most entertaining aspect being Carl wrecking his car during his celebration after the victory.
Over the years, NASCAR has changed the format many times, and it seems with each change the racing worsens.
The 2011 Sprint All-Star Race consisted of the following rules.
Segment 1: 50 laps with a mandatory green flag pit stop for four tires on lap 25. (Caution laps count)
Segment 2: 20 laps with an optional pit stop after the yellow. (Caution laps count)
Segment 3: 20 laps with a 10-minute break after giving teams a chance to make adjustments. (Caution laps count) - Field will take one lap under yellow and make a mandatory four-tire stop under yellow, Segment 4 will start in the order the drivers leave pit road after pit stops.
Segment 4: 10 lap shoot-out to determine the winner. (Cautions do not count)
My first issue with this is the mandatory green flag stop on lap 25. Why not let the teams decide when to pit but require it to be done before the end of the 50-lap segment? It will allow a ton of strategy and make the race more interesting.
Segment 2 I'm fine with. No gimmicks, just let the boys race and give them a chance to pit if they want.
Segment 3 I'm fine with as well, except for the mandatory four-tire stop, Why force guys to stop? You are just going to have the same guys up front again, let some teams gamble, I mean it's for $1 MILLION, don't try and control what the teams do.
Segment 4, a 10 lap shoot-out. OK, that works as long as the previous change is made.
What we saw last night was not great racing. It was not a shoot-out where the best of the best went at it. It was a fairly calm race with nothing going on. Teams could not play any kind of strategy due to the rules.
Allowing that would have been great in getting other drivers up in the mix and putting on a show for the fans that paid great money to come out and watch.
Take the few changes I made up above and start inverting the field again after the segments, have guys in the back eliminated, do whatever it takes to make guys race each other instead of riding around half the night, it's like any other race right now. The drivers know they have a lot of time to just ride and then go all out in the final laps, except this time they weren't allowed to do any kind of strategy to get up in the mix.
After watching all the hype for Saturday night's event, I was very disappointed in what was displayed, and I can't blame it on the drivers at all. It all falls on NASCAR, mainly Brian France and the vision he has.
So again, invert the fields, maybe shorten the race a bit, eliminate the lowest finishing drivers after each segment, let the teams gamble on pit stops, don't force them to pit when you want them to, put it back in the teams court and I'll guarantee you we will see a great race instead of what we were shown Saturday.