Disclaimer: This is my opinion and nothing more. If you don’t agree, that is fine. If you would like to make your opinion heard, feel-free to comment, but I will not respond.
Reflect back to the early to mid 2000’s. The All-Star Races during those years were action-packed and go for broke events. Team owners told their drivers to only bring back the steering wheel. Drivers would listen and by only bringing back the steering wheel, it showed that they went all-out for the victory. The million dollar prize seemed to mean more back then, because drivers seemed to do everything it took to wind up in first place. Those were the good ‘ole days when the All-Star Race was one of the most spectacular events of the season. Now days, the race seems to have changed and the once incredible All-Star Race needs to regain its prestige as the most exciting night in motorsports.
NASCAR has tried very hard to rekindle the fire of the All-Star Race. They have changed the format, made it extra special to run and stay up front, and even put an extra million dollars on the line. It seems as none of those things have worked in trying to spice the All-Star Race back up and if anything, the races have been tamer with those new elements. The only tweaks NASCAR has been making are to the ending of the race, trying to make it an all-out dash for the finish. What they really should be focusing on is how to make the whole race as exciting as the ending should be.
Throughout the years, NASCAR has thrown out new rudiments for the race. As fast as they throw them out there, they take them back. Not allowing the new ways to be tested in multiple races. Innovative ideas that could potentially work have been trashed far before they could be successfully tested. NASCAR needs to give their experiments more than one test trial and if they had done so after the last few races, we could still be ecstatic about this million dollar race. There are a few notable aspects of the race that were once tossed-away, but they are some of the essential elements needed to return the All-Star Race to its top-form.
A few of the thrown out ideas for the race that could come back and enhance the race include the invert and fewer segments. The invert was a fan favorite aspect of the race until NASCAR did away with it after the 2005 race. It would include a randomly selected number of cars switching places on the track after a segment. If the randomly selected number was 6, then the top six drivers would change positions. First would go to sixth, second to fifth, third to fourth and so on. That would create some excitement since the usually faster cars were now behind and they would be hungry to make it back to the top. The inversion of the field would occur early in the race so the drivers would have a chance to make up their lost ground. If NASCAR wants to bring the All-Star magic back, the invert is one idea they need to consider.
Adjusting the number of segments is also an idea that could bring a full-race of action back. The 5 segment format that’s in place now is a little excessive. Shortening the amount of segments would increase the number of laps per segment. Making the segments longer would allow for more action to develop along with a longer amount of time for the drivers to catch the leader if they have a fast car. Having three segments seems like a good number since it’s not too many and at the same time, it’s not one long race.
Throwing a mandatory four-tire pit stop in the middle of one of the segment could also be a positive addition. If that stop were to be put in, then the stop before the final segment wouldn’t need to be there allowing more of a strategy to develop. The first two segments could be longer than the rest since fans may still want a sort of shootout finish, but with more of a strategic feel if NASCAR threw out the mandatory pit-stop before the final segment.
One more potential excitement-adder could be the addition of cars in the race. There are only about 22 cars in the race each year and that doesn’t allow for constant action around the track. If more cars were eligible for the race, there would likely be more racing action throughout the event. Adding all the cars that finished inside the top twenty-five in points during the previous season would boost the number of cars in the race. Adding cars in the main event would decrease the number in the Showdown, but the Showdown would become a race among drivers who don’t usually get to run up-front. That would be a fan-friendly addition and it would benefit the whole All-Star Race night. More of anything usually equals an enhancement of excitement and NASCAR should consider putting more racers in the race.
The time for change has come in the All-Star Race. Fans have sat through too many of these new All-Star Races with a decrease in action as the years go on. The formats NASCAR used in the early 2000’s worked and why they went away from them is beyond me. NASCAR has revived the old-style of drafting at the superspeedways and the old look of the cars, but they have yet to bring back to life the exciting All-Star Races that we used to see. It’s another piece to the puzzle to bring fans back to the sport while continuing to draw new fans in. Fans want exhilaration in races, especially in the race advertised to be the most exciting of the season. NASCAR needs to give the All-Star Race a makeover and that change should revive old All-Star Race elements. The old stuff has been working in racing lately so why not bring back the old style of the All-Star Race? It could be a revolutionary change that could make the All-Star Race a can’t miss event once again.
By Jason Schultz