Sport NASCAR takes steps to juice up competition for Saturday's All-Star race

21:06  17 may  2018
21:06  17 may  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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NASCAR Sprint All - Star Race Notes: On Saturday night, NASCAR ’ s top drivers take center stage in an unparalleled best-of-the-best showcase – the annual NASCAR Sprint All - Star Race .

Just like all - star events in other pro sports, NASCAR ’ s All - Star race hardly resembles any other competition . It takes place on a track, but that’ s about all it has in common with the other 36 points races this season.

CONCORD, N.C. – The drivers and teams being outrun by Kevin Harvick get a breather this week as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule takes a break for the annual All-Star Race.

Harvick will be in the field for Saturday night’s race, of course, and there will be a million-dollar prize on the line, but there won’t be quite as much urgency to stop the Harvick train.

Harvick has won two consecutive races and five of the first 12 this season as teams gather at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend for an 80-lap special event that often hasn’t been that special, at least in recent years.

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Race fans attending the Monster Energy NASCAR All - Star Race on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway will have a plethora of entertainment awaiting them at the biggest It' s 167 laps of a fender-banging tussle among trucks in the ultimate lead- up to the Monster Energy NASCAR All - Star Race .

NASCAR .com' s Pat DeCola ranks Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers following the most recent race . A pole winner for the All - Star Race a year ago, Harvick is a good bet to land in Victory Lane on Saturday night.

Runaways have been more the norm and less the exception in recent All-Star events, and NASCAR has taken a dramatic step this year in attempting to reverse that trend.

The 21 drivers competing in Saturday night’s race will do so under an odd set of aerodynamic rules. Cars will be fitted with power-sapping restrictor plates (the norm at big superspeedways but an oddity at CMS) and six-inch spoilers. The idea is to decrease the aero advantage of the lead car and, hopefully, make racing packs bigger. A similar experimental approach led to better racing in last year’s Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Drivers generally are skeptical of using the controversial plates at mid-range tracks, but most understand the need to juice the competition at the series’ 1.5-mile facilities.

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Intense Sprint Showdown sets scene for Saturday night' s All - Star Race . But on Saturday night, Scott Miller, in his first year as NASCAR ’ s senior vice president of competition , took the heat and admitted the confusion was partly NASCAR ’ s fault.

CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Busch took control of Saturday night’ s Monster Energy All - Star Race on the final restart with 10 laps left and motored away to a 1.274-second victory—his first in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“The All-Star Race has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but the addition of restrictor plates may be the biggest,” said Matt Kenseth, who will continue his work in the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 cars as a substitute for Trevor Bayne. “I honestly don’t know what to expect other than the cars will be a lot slower.”

Although NASCAR has provided no hints that the aero changes might be tried in other races, the All-Star event provides a good platform for testing changes.

“I’m not a particular fan of it, but we do need to orchestrate some better racing at mile-and-a-half tracks, particularly Charlotte,” said Kyle Busch, who won the race in 2017. “It hasn’t been one of our best racetracks there since the repave as far as working multiple lanes. It’s been pretty single-file there, and I don’t know why.

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Larson will start on the pole Saturday night in the NASCAR All - Star race after Busch was assessed a 10-second penalty when race officials discovered he had two loose lug nuts on If a driver decides to save the tires for the final shootout, they must start at the back of the field and weave their way up front.

Joey Logano triumphs in scintillating NASCAR Sprint All - Star Race finish: At the end of a wild and crazy Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, #22-Joey Logano got the upper hand in an intense battle with last-chance qualifier #42-Kyle Larson and took home the

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“You would think with age on asphalt it would keep getting better and better, and it hasn’t. We need to bring out more things to try, and I’m not a particular fan of slowing the lead car down and bringing that guy back to the rest of the field. But if that gets us back to closer racing, then so be it.”

Busch is one of 17 drivers who have qualified for starting spots in Saturday’s race. The All-Star field will total 21. The winner of a fan vote will join the field, and the three stage winners in the preliminary Monster Energy Open will advance to the feature.

Among the drivers who will be racing in the 50-lap Open (stages are 20, 20 and 10) are Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Paul Menard, William Byron, Bubba Wallace and Alex Bowman.

Elliott, son of Bill Elliott, one of NASCAR's all-time most popular drivers, is the favorite to win the fan vote.

The All-Star race will be broken into stages of 30, 20, 20 and 10 laps. If necessary, overtime rules will be used at the end of stages so that no stage will end under caution-flag conditions. Only green-flag laps will count in the final 10-lap dash.

NASCAR All-Star Race: Kurt Busch expects Talladega-style racing

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Why not Saturday ? The All - Star race this year has the makings of one they will talk about it for 25 years - if the drivers treat it that way. NASCAR has some good on-track competition right now, and the million made-for-TV event is a chance to showcase the storylines.

Catch up with Clint Bowyer on pit road after the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover. Larson happy with steps No. 42 team taking on new Chevrolet body. Monster Energy All - Star Race rules/format released.

And what of Harvick, the current star of the all-stars? He has won this event once, in 2007, and scored runnerup finishes in 2014 and 2015.

Johnson, winless this year, has four All-Star victories and is the only driver in the field with more than one win. He has won eight points races at CMS.

Here are drivers eligible for the race and how they became eligible:

1. Ryan Blaney, 2017 Pocono (1) win

2. Clint Bowyer, 2018 Martinsville (1) win

3. Kurt Busch, 2017 Daytona 500 win

4. Kyle Busch, 2017 Pocono (2) win

5. Austin Dillon, 2017 Charlotte (1) win

6. Denny Hamlin, 2017 New Hampshire (1) win

7. Kevin Harvick, 2017 Sonoma win

8. Jimmie Johnson, 2017 Texas win

9. Kasey Kahne, 2017 Indianapolis win

10. Matt Kenseth, 2017 Phoenix (2) win

11. Brad Keselowski, 2017 Atlanta win

12. Kyle Larson, 2017 Auto Club win

13. Joey Logano, 2017 Richmond win

14. Jamie McMurray, Former All-Star Race winner

15 .Ryan Newman, 2017 Phoenix win

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2017 Talladega (1) win

17. Martin Truex Jr., 2017 Las Vegas win

Note: Four more drivers will be added: The winner of a fan vote, and the three stage winners in the preliminary Monster Energy Open.

All-Star race shakeup goes well and NASCAR should try again .
Something had to be done to NASCAR's annual All-Star race.Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

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