Now that the All-Star Race is over with, the criticism/praise of NASCAR’s new format begins! After fairly exciting on track action during the first four segments, Jimmie Johnson stole the show in the final 10 lap dash after taking he overtook teammate Kasey Kahne for the lead with eight to go. The Busch brothers dominated the first four segments but came home 3rd and 5th after the Hendrick duo of Kahne and Johnson beat them off pit road. So, did this new format create better racing or does NASCAR have to redo it all again for the 30th running of the All-Star Race in 2014?
The average finish rule worked perfectly in my opinion. The drivers raced hard from the entire race and it didn’t matter if it was for the lead or 12th spot. The final 10 laps were unfortunately anticlimactic courtesy of Jimmie Johnson which left most fans disappointed. A large contingent of people out there decided to just blame the format but that’s unfair to do. The average finish was a good idea and doesn’t need tweaking. On the other hand, how the end of the race is setup definitely need fixing. One of the most riveting moments of the race was when Bowyer, Edwards and Mark Martin stayed out on old tires which caused the field to stack up behind them and cars were all over the place jockeying for position. Prior to the final dash for cash though, everyone in the field was forced to be on the same exact strategy with the mandatory four tire pit stop and that needs to be changed.
NASCAR needs to give these guys more options so we can watch two or three different strategies unfold at the end of the race. Some may opt for four fresh tires, a few will take two and maybe even a team that’s feeling brave stays out. That would make the end of these races insane and chaotic which is the point of the All-Star Race, right? Crew chiefs should be given more leeway and I’m sure if they did Saturday night, somebody deep in the pack like Tony Stewart or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. may have stayed out and gone for broke setting up a wild showdown.
That would be a perfect change and would add some much needed excitement without NASCAR having to manufacturer any of their own with gimmicks like field inversions. Another minor change I’d like to see would be shortening the final sprint to the finish from ten laps to five. It’s not like ten laps is too long but five laps would just raise the intensity level and the sense of urgency that much more. If it was five laps to go when they went green this past weekend, Johnson and Kahne would have been battling door-to-door for the win with just 2 1/2 laps remaining instead of 7 1/2.
Other than that, keep the average finish rule and definitely keep that no pit road speed policy for qualifying! That qualifying session was one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve ever watched and doesn’t need to be touched. Overall, the racing throughout the event was good and kept my interest but the finish didn’t live up to the hype. I’m all for letting races play out on their own but the point of this exhibition event is to entertain the fans so those are my ideas to create the best show possible without compromising the integrity of the race. Overall, I give this race a B-; it’s an improvement from 2011 and 2012 but there’s still some work to do on NASCAR’s part.