This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series begins its customary two-week "homestand" with the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The following weekend is the traditional Coca Cola 600, also at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
This weekend's event features no points on the line, a unique race format, a smaller starting field and a cool $1 million for the winning driver. With nothing but cold hard cash on the line, the intensity surely won't be lacking, and there will still be plenty of drama. But one question will still remain:
Should the All-Star Race change its venue from year to year?
This is a question that gets asked almost every year. While the format of the All-Star Race is constantly changing, the location is the one thing that has remained constant.
The short answer to this question is no, the race should not move around from track to track. Keeping it in Charlotte makes too much sense.
This is the home track for most of the Sprint Cup Series teams (sorry Furniture Row). By having the All-Star Race in Charlotte, the weekend before the 600, it saves most teams money by not having to travel for two weekends in a row.
If they move the race, but choose to keep it on this weekend each year, then all the teams will have to load up a hauler and travel an extra weekend. That's on top of the already grueling schedule that the series maintains. At least by doing it this way, the teams have one extra weekend at home.
One possible solution that some may think of would be to reconfigure the schedule. Therefore, if NASCAR did want to change the race's location, that the All-Star Race would still fall one weekend prior to its new track's regularly scheduled points race.
While that's a good idea in theory, it wouldn't save the teams any money. First, there would be an extra week's worth of lodging costs to consider.
Secondly, a lot of teams specially build a car for the All-Star Race knowing that there is a good chance the car won't be coming back in one piece. That means that teams would have to send multiple haulers of cars to the same track: one car for the All-Star Race, and then the primary and backup cars for the following week's race. Another waste of money for the teams.
The All-Star Race has been around since 1985. Only once, in 1986 in Atlanta, was it run at a track other than Charlotte. More often than not, we are left with at least one memorable moment from the race. That alone should prove that Charlotte continues to be a great place to hold the event.
There is no denying that a shootout-style race at Bristol or Dover would be a lot of fun to watch. But the points-counting races at those different tracks are special enough. Why do we need to change that?
Besides, the All Star race in Charlotte has become a tradition. Sometimes, it's just better to stick with traditions. What's next, rotating the Daytona 500 from track to track?