The NASCAR All-Star race was a dud last year. Whether it will be any different this year remains to be seen but already the sanctioning body has added new ripples to the event.
Different year, different gimmicks.
NASCAR will now allow cars to speed down pit lane during qualifying. As drivers seek to improve their starting position they will push the envelope trying to gain precious seconds.
Fear not about the safety of the crew members. Drivers will race down pit road but crew members will wait until the car comes to a complete stop before beginning a four tire stop. This is a departure from the typical race weekend where crews rush to get into position as cars approach.
“We’ll do that only for qualifying and only for the All-Star race because we can control the environment and it’ll be very clean down there,” NASCAR president Mike Helton said. “It’s an opportunity to do something on a weekend that is known for different stuff.”
Yes, NASCAR has found a way to ruin a pit stop. They have also created a unsafe environment.
Pit road speeds have been enforced in NASCAR since 1991 when Ricky Rudd’s car spun 180 degrees and slammed into Bill Elliott’s car. Elliott’s tire changer, Mike Rich, died after being caught in between the cars.
To suggest that NASCAR can control anything in regards to a speeding car down pit road is down right lunacy.
NASCAR has also implemented the Danica Rule for the fan vote announcing it on Wednesday. NASCAR’s fan vote for the All-Star race has long been a joke, this year Danica Patrick will surely win allowing her admittance into the All-Star race regardless of her finishing position in the Sprint Showdown, the opening race of the night for drivers who have not won a race in 2012 or 2013.
While the rule is not actually called the Danica Rule it could benefit her as she has just two finishes on the lead lap in 11 races this season. Previously winners of the fan vote needed to finish on the lead lap.
Is there a way to improve the All-Star race weekend? Maybe but these rule changes do little to add excitement to the actual race.
The race will consist of four 20-lap segments and a 10-lap shootout with the winner collecting $1 million. Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith is offering another $1 million if a driver can win all five segments.