How can the All-Star Race reward $1 million to a driver who ran the majority of the race in the back of the pack, riding around trying to avoid trouble? How can the top three finishers of the event, through the race format, be given an advantage by not racing up front in the middle of the race until the very end?
Without a doubt, these are all controversial issues that NASCAR needs to address within the next year before the next All-Star event. As seen each year, changes will be made, and changes should be made, however that does not mean the racing was bad this past weekend, not by any means.
Immediately, as the green flag flew on the 2012 Sprint All-Star Race, the racing was incredible. Drivers were slipping, sliding, cutting through the grass, running two and three wide and were going for it. It was clear, they wanted to win those segments. They wanted any advantage they could get to get one step closer to winning $1 million.
Contrary to the previous races at the start of the 2012 season, passing was not as rare. Drivers could catch, pass and race side by side with others all night. Perhaps it was the new aero changes NASCAR made last week, or perhaps it was just the money, but one thing was certain, there was some serious racing.
With the incredible passing and side by side racing being unique compared to the majority of the previous races this season, there was one common denominator, the lack of cautions.
Unlike all the promos which are always known for showing wrecks, cars spinning through the grass and shots of intense impact with the wall, the race portrayed none of that. In fact, the occasional engine failures were the only real cautions of the night, except for the concluding segment cautions, of course. There were no wrecks at all.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Despite all the hype and unnecessary attention that has been given to fans over supposedly wanting crashes in order for them to enjoy a race, Saturday night’s race proved something that was needed to be understood in the sport – wrecks do not need to occur for there to be good racing.
While there are always critics and there are always ways to make the racing, or rather the race, better, there were many people who were very pleased with the show.
Whether it was because of the segments, the aero changes, a combination of the two, or something else, great racing was seen by many – perhaps the best in quite a while.
What the effects of this race will be moving forward is yet to be determined, but there were certainly many people watching and taking notes Saturday night.